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Director, Small Business & Technology Development Center and the Management Development Institute
Director, Small Business & Technology Development Center and the Management Development Institute

2015 Economic Outlook: Rayanna Anderson

Posted online
Rayanna Anderson balances workforce interests and employer needs in a post-recession climate.

2015 Projection
Job creation will remain key, with the largest increases in service sectors, such as professional and information services.

SBJ: At 4.3 percent, Springfield tallied the fourth lowest unemployment rate in the Show-Me State in November. How did the southwest Missouri job market fare overall in 2014?
Rayanna Anderson: We had job increases in southwest Missouri. Although we had a significant increase in unemployment during the recession, we are still a little insulated. We are heavy into medical and education in terms of employment as a whole. Retail is really the third biggest sector. That insulates us significantly because they don’t fluctuate as much. People still have medical care; that might decrease somewhat if they are unemployed, but it doesn’t go away.

SBJ: Will that trend continue?
Anderson: All the leading indicators are showing unemployment will continue to decline, especially in manufacturing, but it may look different than it was before the recession. Manufacturing is changing. It is more tech centered now, and those job typically pay more.

SBJ: What other employment sectors have showed movement?
Anderson: We are seeing an interest in startups. We had a 32 percent increase in attendees in classes on starting their own business. That’s really significant. Some of that may be related to, I hope it’s related to, The eFactory and bringing together some of the entrepreneurs in the area. We have seen a dramatic increase in startups, but that comes alongside some lackluster expansions.

Expansions in employment numbers over the last couple years have been pretty flat. There has still been new job creation, absolutely, but not at the levels there was before 2008 and 2009.

SBJ: What jobs show the most promise?
Anderson: The No. 1 job for the area in terms of growth is still medical, the (registered nurses). Second would be logistics, trucking.

SBJ: What’s coming in 2015?
Anderson: I think startups will engage again. There was a time frame when lending was very difficult, truthfully, for small-business owners. Most startups are small. In fact, 95 percent of all businesses in southwest Missouri qualify as a small business. For a long time, that’s where a major significant portion of all job creation was happening. I don’t see any large companies hiring tons and tons more people. I think they will continue to expand in a better economy, but they have been slow to get back on that hiring scene.

SBJ: What are your areas of concern?
Anderson: Here’s what I hear from clients: We need skills. They still tell me they can’t find enough of certain types of employees. Interestingly, a lot of that is (information technology). That industry is really growing and one of the top growing in southwest Missouri. However, it’s still very hard to find qualified IT people. Now, out of necessity, companies are creating their own and doing internal education to counterbalance that.

SBJ: What legislation is the SBTDC watching?
Anderson: The governor still hasn’t released Missouri’s training funds. I would love to see those released so companies are able to train their employees and move forward.

SBJ: Any hope the funds will be released?
Anderson: There is always hope.[[In-content Ad]]

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