The ebb and flow of jobless figures

Monday, May 8, 2006

Unemployment rates are like belly dancers; they are in a constant state of movement. For every BioKyowa announcement -- in March it was announced the company would lay off 37 of its 145 workers -- there are others that trumpet new jobs.

The ethanol plant being planned for Sikeston, for example, will create hundreds of new jobs. The corn mill I write about elsewhere on this page will mean 80 more new jobs.

These layoffs and new job creations are rarely large numbers. It's more an ebb and flow. Procter & Gamble plants don't come along every day. They don't even come along every century.

It seems to be the same way everywhere. But lately Missouri is continuing to add jobs at a higher rate than it is losing them. Since January, for example, nearly 50,000 new jobs across the state have been added, according to the state's Department of Economic Development.

Also, the state's unemployment stands below the national average (of 4.7 percent) and spiraled down to 4.5 percent in March, the lowest since the summer of 2001. The March seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is three-tenths of a point lower than it was in February and a full point lower than in March 2005. Missouri stands fourth nationwide in the over-the-year change of unemployment rates maintaining the status of a job-producing state.

Missouri is on a nice little roll here. Payroll employment increased in March by 1,900 jobs. The biggest increases in employment was in the trade, transportation and utilities industries, which together added 3,600 jobs.

From March 2005 to March 2006, payroll employment has grown by 33,400 jobs or 1.2 percent. Financial activities added 4,300 jobs over the year.

Like him or not, this growth has all happened under Gov. Matt Blunt after years of losing tons of jobs under the previous administration.

* Mac Con adds residential remodeling: Mac Con Co., the general contracting company that specializes in commercial and industrial construction, has added a residential remodeling division, according to company vice president Nikki Stallion. The company is owned by Mike Stallion.

The new division specializes in tile, hardwood, window replacement and "basically anything to do with remodeling your home," Nikki Stallion said. The company has added a small crew and superintendent Earl Phillips.

"We did it," Stallion said, "because a lot of our friends have asked us to help them out with residential work. We didn't have any way of fulfilling those needs very economically. We also noticed there was a great need for a reliable residential contractor in this area."

* RM COCO ranked 24th in the world: The spring issue of Fabrics & Furnishings International has listed RM COCO in Cape Girardeau as 24th in the world among the top decorative fabric wholesalers.

RM COCO attributes the success to associates, the sales team and a growing customer base.

"Our company has seen significant growth in the past few years and to be ranked 24th in the world is an achievement for RM COCO and its employees," said president Jim Rust.

In the past six months, RM COCO has acquired two fabric wholesalers, Steven Fabrics cut order division and Kirsch Fabrics. The assets and customers lists of both companies have contributed to the most successful first quarter in the company's history.

Mike Watson, vice president of sales, said sales greatly surpassed what they were this time last year.

"We are anticipating our best year ever," he said.

RM COCO is a wholesale distributor/converter of exclusive decorative drapery and upholstery fabrics, trim and custom hardware serving the residential and commercial markets. The company employs more than 110 workers, including 20 nationwide sales representatives.

* Grant-writing business: You can't open a newspaper these days without seeing some group has applied for a grant to get something done. Now, Jackson resident Regina Tucker wants to help you write those grants.

She's opened Sol de Oro Publications at 145 S. Mount Auburn. Actually, she actually has reopened it. She had the business when she lived in Phoenix, where she wrote grants for public funding for the city of Phoenix, the United Way and others.

The other aspect of the business, Tucker said, is helping businesses get started, by setting up budgets and hiring.

* WSIU wins top national prize: A national broadcasting organization awarded WSIU Public Broadcasting its top national prize for community outreach for its cooperation with a coalition of service organizations in Southern Illinois. The National Center for Outreach, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, gave the Community Partnership Award to WSIU and the Quad Cities Coalition, a group of health and service organizations serving four counties in Southern Illinois.

* Steve & Barry's in Carbondale: The Steve & Barry's clothing store must be off to a good start at Westfield West Park. A Steve & Barry's is opening in Carbondale on May 26.

Scott Moyers is the business editor of the Southeast Missourian. Send your comments, business news, information or questions to "Biz Buzz," 301 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, Mo., 63702-0699, or e-mail them to or call (573) 335-6611, extension 137.

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