Yael T. Abouhalkah

Woeful new jobs figures should embarrass Govs. Sam Brownback and Jay Nixon

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (left) and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon have not done enough to create positive business climates in their states.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (left) and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon have not done enough to create positive business climates in their states. AP

Job growth has been plodding along in Kansas and Missouri for months. Now, new figures released Tuesday indicate both states have been among the worst in the nation at adding employment over the entire last year.

Summed up:

▪ Kansas was 11th from the bottom in total nonfarm job growth — at .826 percent — from June 2014 to June 2015, according to federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

▪ Missouri was 12th from the bottom, with growth of .832 percent over the same period.

Overall, Utah lead the country with a 4.3 percent growth rate for the past year; West Virginia was worst in the country, actually losing jobs and having a negative 1.2 percent mark in job “growth.”

The new numbers should be embarrassing for Govs. Sam Brownback in Kansas and Jay Nixon in Missouri, as well as all the states’ lawmakers.

The Republican-controlled legislatures have been busy passing looser gun laws and more restrictive welfare rules while too often not taking steps to create positive business climates in their states, such as investing in better schools.

This is also double-barreled piece of bad news for the economies of both states. Neither is going to make progress on a number of fronts without being able to add jobs, businesses and residents in the long term.

Brownback has been claiming for the last few years that new employment is going to take off in Kansas thanks to the income tax cuts he pushed through the Legislature in 2012.

It hasn’t happened; Kansas continually shows up near the bottom of job growth rates among U.S. states.

(Brownback supporters point out that Kansas had strong job additions in June 2015. That’s true, but even that fact barely lifted Kansas out of the bottom 10 on the longer-term measurement of looking at the past year’s experience.)

And the income tax cuts have decimated the Kansas budget, leading the Legislature to approve higher sales and cigarette taxes in the last session.

In Missouri, Nixon at least hasn’t had to deal with a budget that’s been socked by indefensible tax reductions.

Still, Nixon also hasn’t had a real good plan to boost employment in the Show-Me State in the last few years.

And it shows in the recent lagging pace of new employment in Missouri.

To reach editorial page columnist Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Twitter @YaelTAbouhalkah.

  Comments