Columbia Mayor Brian Treece boasts that his city has the strongest economy in Missouri.
At an October press conference with Gov. Mike Parson, Treece claimed: "We’re one of the fastest growing cities in the region, the only city in the state to grow jobs faster than the nation as a whole."
Is Columbia the economic powerhouse that Treece claims it to be?
Treece was referencing a 2018 article from the Columbia Daily Tribune in his claim, which cited a report by two University of Missouri economics professors, Joseph H. Haslag and John H. Holtmann Jr.
The report, "On the Columbia Economy: A Comparison across Missouri and across Counties," looked at four cities in Missouri — Columbia, Springfield, St. Louis and Kansas City — and found that Columbia’s economy outperforms the other cities in a number of categories.
The first category, gross domestic product growth, measures the final goods and services produced in an area in a period of time. Haslag and Holtmann studied the GDP growth rate for each city from 2001 to 2016. Columbia’s was the highest at 1.81%, which is also greater than 1.69%, the growth rate for the country.
So, Columbia’s GDP growth is a good indicator that the city is outdoing the nation. However, Treece claimed that Columbia’s job growth was faster than that of the nation.
Haslag and Holtmann’s report only compares Columbia’s job growth to the other major cities in Missouri. It doesn’t make the comparison with the nation.
According to the report, Columbia’s payroll employment — the standard measure of the number of jobs a region has — increased at an average annual rate of 2% from 1990 to 2018. The Missouri average was .78%. But the report does not cite the payroll employment rate for the nation.
Total payroll employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that Columbia is behind the rate of the nation. From January 2009 to January 2019, the U.S. saw an average annual growth rate of nonfarm employment of 1.18%. In that same time period, Columbia’s average annual growth rate was .97%.
So, while Columbia may be beating the rest of the state in job growth, it is not outperforming the nation, as Treece claimed.
Treece also said that Columbia is the only city in the state to have this impressive job growth.
Because they account for 70% of the total economic production in Missouri, Haslag and Holtmann’s report only studied Columbia, St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield. Other cities in Missouri were not included in the study, so it’s not clear whether Columbia is the only city in the state to experience this growth.
Treece said that Columbia is "one of the fastest growing cities in the region, the only city in the state to grow jobs faster than the nation as a whole."
Treece was correct in asserting that Columbia is one of the fastest growing cities in the region from an economic standpoint. Haslag and Holtmann’s report shows that Columbia has the highest GDP growth out of the four major metropolitan cities in Missouri.
However, Treece also said that Columbia is the only city in the state to have jobs grow faster than the nation. Data from the BLS indicates this isn't true, as the U.S. saw a greater average annual payroll employment growth rate than Columbia.
Treece was correct in asserting that Columbia is booming compared to other Missouri cities, but BLS data shows the city is not outperforming the state in terms of job growth. For these reasons, we rate the claim Mostly False.