Missouri Minute: Auto factories to shut down again amid chip shortage; August hiring slows

Hello, MBA readers,

There was always supposedly a light at the end of the tunnel of microchip shortages. But the tunnel seemingly keeps getting longer as multiple automakers announce new closures, leaving thousands of Missouri workers in uncertain circumstances. Ford will halt pickup production at its plant in the Kansas City area, and General Motors is idling its Wentzville factory. Chips, used in abundance in each and every new vehicle, have been in short supply for months due to the pandemic’s damage to global supply chains. Shifting gears to higher education, the University of Missouri System has made a big decision on pandemic policy. All four of the system’s campuses will forgo vaccine mandates for students and employees after a vote Thursday by the UM System Board of Curators. The board’s chair cited “individual liberty” and “freedom” in the decision. Plus, the latest national jobs snapshot shows hiring slowed in August. American employers added 235,000 jobs for the month, down significantly from nearly 1 million job adds in both June and July. Travel and tourism were among the industries in which employment was hit hardest as the delta variant spread across the country.


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August hiring slows as COVID hits travel, tourism sectors
American employers added 235,000 jobs in August, a steep decline from nearly 1 million the two months prior. Despite slower hiring, unemployment declined to 5.2% from 5.4% in July. (Associated Press)

Missouri auto factories to shut down amid chip shortage
The General Motors factory in Wentzville and Ford assembly in Claycomo will join several plants across the U.S. in halting production for two weeks due to a worsening chip shortage that has plagued production for months. (Associated Press)

UM System curators vote against vaccine mandate
The curators blocked COVID-19 vaccine mandates for most students and employees of the statewide university system. (Columbia Missourian)

Demand for rental aid escalates as eviction ban ends
Applications to the state for emergency rental assistance have increased following the end of the national eviction moratorium. (Missouri Independent)

Low-income housing tax credit payout process accelerated
The Missouri Housing Development Commission is advancing a plan to speed up redemption of the tax credits despite opposition from several prominent state senators. (Missouri Independent)

St. Louis credit rating receives boost from Moody’s
Following four downgrades in the past decade, Moody’s has upgraded St. Louis’ credit rating to A3 from Baa1. Moody’s cited repeated operating surpluses but said the city has a “below-average financial profile.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Metro Transit to offer $2,000 bonuses
St. Louis’ public transportation system is hoping the signing bonuses can help address labor shortages that have disrupted bus service. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

St. Louis grocery chain to host hiring event
Dierbergs Markets will look to fill 300 job openings at a hiring event later this month. (St. Louis Business Journal)

CBKC receives tax credits to stimulate business in low-income areas
A community development corporation associated with Central Bank of Kansas City received $30 million in New Markets Tax Credits, part of $365 million that the state of Missouri received as a whole. (Kansas City Business Journal)


Say that again

“It’s been kind of like a rollercoaster. Yes it’s going to happen, no it’s not, it’s going to court and then yes it’s going to happen.”

That’s Saralyn Erwin, a certified application counselor who helps Missourians find their way through complicated social programs, including Medicaid. If the program wasn’t already complicated enough to navigate, now hundreds of thousands of people in the state are wondering if and when they will have access to Medicaid benefits, KBIA reports. A judge ordered that the state must move forward with expanding coverage, but a fight has ensued over when that must happen. Further complicating things, Erwin says, the state has done nothing to advertise the expansion, leaving many potentially qualified Missourians unaware.


Go figure

5%

That’s how much St. Louis Lambert International Airport plans to scale back flights in the fourth quarter as the delta variant creates growing travel hesitancy, according to the St. Louis Business Journal. Between Aug. 3 and Aug. 30, Kansas City International saw flights scaled back even more, by 6.6%. It’s not just Missouri, either: All 50 of the country’s biggest hubs saw a decline in scheduled flights. The downturn comes just as the travel industry was getting back in gear after a decline in COVID-19 cases earlier in the year and a jump in cases of travel fever.


Hello, my name is

Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health Building

That’s what the University of Missouri System Board of Curators decided on as the name for the new $221 million health care research facility set to debut in Columbia next month. Supporters of the name cited efforts by Sen. Roy Blunt, the Missouri Republican set to retire at the end of this term, to advance and invest in research, the Columbia Missourian reports. The measure passed in an 8-0 vote. The new facility, intended to encourage more efficient collaboration between medical researchers across the UM System, is slated to open Oct. 19.


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