Missouri rockets to 7th best jobs growth in past year in America

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (left) and former Gov. Jay Nixon

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (left) and former Gov. Jay Nixon

The problem with being a Debbie Downer in politics is sometimes you don’t want to acknowledge what’s really going on if you didn’t cause it to happen. Consider new Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens.

Here’s the great news he ought to be celebrating with Missourians.

According to new federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Missouri had the seventh best record of job growth among the 50 states from December 2015 to December 2016.

The Show Me State gained 64,500 in employment, up 2.3 percent, stronger than the 1.5 percent U.S. average.

Here’s the rub for Greitens: All of that growth occurred under former Gov. Jay Nixon, who left office in early January.

That’s why this news caught my eye over the weekend: Greitens met with Vice President Mike Pence in Washington, D.C., then posted a Facebook message full of buzzwords about what he was going to accomplish. Did he mention the state’s exemplary jobs record? Nope.

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Instead, he threw in the usual Republican attack on Obamacare and then said a partnership with the Trump White House could “take our state in a new direction with more jobs….”

In reality, Missouri better not go “in a new direction,” because it’s been doing great in the last two years — reaching 87,700 in higher employment in that span.

Unfortunately, this was the second time Greitens has recently claimed Missouri’s employment picture was bleak.

In his State of the State Address two weeks ago, the governor promoted “right to work” as a way to spur more jobs, rather than acknowledge its real purpose of breaking unions and trying to lower pay for workers.

“Since 2009, the country has had 10 percent private sector job growth,” Greitens said. “If we had grown just as fast as the rest of the country since ‘09, we would have 120,000 more jobs in Missouri today.”

I checked; he’s basically correct. But why measure from 2009? Oh, that’s when Nixon took office. Got it.

Still, Greitens could have looked at far more recent data and celebrated the state’s jobs revival.

When he was governor, Nixon sure noticed he was leading a state enjoying an employment boom. Last month — on Dec. 19, 2016 — the state Department of Economic Development website touted Nixon’s statement about Missouri’s accomplishments.

“The governor applauded state-by-state numbers released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showing Missouri’s net gain of 57,100 jobs over the last year led all eight of its neighboring states; the Show Me State also ranked in the top 10 nationwide in new jobs.”

But the Department of Economic Development’s same page on Jan. 18, 2017, merely directed readers to a link for the January jobs report. Granted, the BLS national rankings came out a week later, the ones that revealed Missouri had moved up the national rankings to seventh place.

But that accomplishment had not been touted by the state as of Monday.

By the way, Missouri is doing far better than the loss of 9,300 jobs over the past year in Kansas, which was the fifth worst mark among U.S. states. And Missouri has done all this without the reckless income tax cuts Brownback supported in 2012.

If Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback ever has a year like the one Missouri just had, he and his sycophants will work overtime to tout the good fortune.

In Missouri, though, it’s crickets for similar news from Gov. Greitens.

He doesn’t want to acknowledge that Nixon might have done something right his last few years in office.

Or that Obamacare is not a job-killing disaster.

Or that “right to work” is not really needed in the state.

Missouri for now is a strong state for job growth. Just hope the new guy doesn’t screw that up.