Here’s a story the rest of the country needs to hear.
Kansas lowered its unemployment rate from the high 8s [percent] of last year to today’s 6.5 percent, due in part to a diversified economy and a Kansas-taxpayer-funded transportation program of $6.48 billion that will create and sustain 175,000 jobs, Governor Mark Parkinson told CNBC Monday.
Parkinson’s appearance on CNBC is part of a weeklong series in which governors of states with unemployment rates lower than the national average will talk about their state’s performance during the downturn. Nationally, the jobless rate is 9.5 percent.
“Ag and energy have held up quite well during the recession. Commodity prices have been relatively high,” said Parkinson. He added that aviation manufacturing took a hit last year, but that the industry has rebounded somewhat this year and stabilized.
Other top sectors in Kansas are oil and gas production, wind energy and bioscience.
"“Ag and energy have held up quite well during the recession. Commodity prices have been relatively high.” said Parkinson."
Parkinson said that the state decided two decades ago to invest in its infrastructure to fix its transportation system. Earlier this year, the state legislature approved a sales tax increase of 4/10th of 1 percent, dedicated to road upkeep.
“We passed that last spring, and now we have virtually every highway contractor in Kansas back to work,” he added.
The governor added that, except for aviation, all of the state's sectors are hiring and that there are job shortages in some parts of Kansas.
Kansas received $2.15 billion in federal stimulus funds.
Parkinson, a Democrat, became the state’s 45th governor in April 2009, whenKathleen Sebeliusstepped down to become secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. He was lieutenant governor under Sebelius.
Watch the State of the States daily this week on Street Signs at 2pm ET. On Tuesday, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer will be featured.