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Gov. Mike Parson discusses an improved work climate in Missouri at Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts.
Photo provided by Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce
Gov. Mike Parson discusses an improved work climate in Missouri at Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts.

Parson touts job growth in virtual State of the State

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Gov. Mike Parson spoke July 29 at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s third annual State of the State event in an environment decidedly different from the first two.

Due to safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic, chamber officials decided late July 24 to turn the previously scheduled in-person event to a livestream. Only a couple dozen people – media, chamber staff and board members – were allowed inside Missouri State University’s Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts to view the governor speak about the state’s response to COVID-19 and what he referred to as a rebound in the state's work climate.

Acknowledging the economic and medical health challenges of the past few months brought on by the pandemic, Parson boasted of the state’s response and his confidence that Missouri is on the road to recovery. He said for the first two months of the year, he was focused on addressing workforce development and infrastructure issues – two key areas of emphasis for his administration.

“Needless to say, when COVID-19 hit Missouri in March, everything changed,” he said.

However, Parson said June's unemployment rate of 7.9% represented a rebound in the workforce compared with 10.1% in May. The jobless rate was 3.2% in February, just before the pandemic impacted the economy. During June, employers added 71,600 jobs, bringing nonfarm payroll ranks up to 2.7 million, according to the state Department of Economic Development.

“For May and June combined, Missouri recovered approximately one-third of the jobs lost in March and April,” Parson said. “Missouri’s economy is recovering."

Parson cited several recent economic development wins for the state – and two are projects in Marshfield. An $8 million expansion of Armstrong World Industries Inc. will add 130 jobs, and a $4.9 million investment in the Tyler Pipe Co. plant will bring on another 75 jobs.

Parson also touted the Show Me Strong Recovery Plan, announced in April to gradually reopen the state’s economy, following a temporary shutdown in response to COVID-19’s spread.

One of the pillars was rapidly expanding testing capacity, which he said has grown to 90,000 tests per week from around 4,000 weekly in March.

“We have learned and accomplished so much since March,” he said. “Knowing what we know now, we are much better prepared to deal with COVID-19 going forward.”

For the full story, read Springfield Business Journal's Aug. 3 print edition.

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