Innovative jobs are becoming a bigger focus across the country and state, and Jefferson City's workforce is no exception.
Amy Greenbank, a local artist who has done murals around town, such as the colorful one on Capitol Avenue she painted last year, as well as commission work and teaching, said the community has upped its focus on the arts -- one of the job sectors identified by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' O*NET program as an innovative profession.
"In recent years, the opportunities for artists have picked up here in town," Greenbank said. "The mural I did on East Capitol Avenue was one of the first, and they're trying to add more. It's a great opportunity for artists to get their name out there, and Jefferson City is looking to add more of that unique vision throughout the community."
She said artists also had plenty of opportunities through local groups like Capitol Arts and the Art Bazaar, while festivities around town like Porchfest and Chalk Art Festival allowed artists to show their talent and sell their work.
Artists make up a portion of the innovative jobs market, an area where Jefferson City nearly matches the national rate and leads the state in terms of an innovative workforce index, according to a new report.
Innovative jobs, as defined in the report, are those requiring creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas and work-related solutions. These occupations range across a wide variety of fields, from science, technology engineering and math (STEM) to the arts and education.
Examples in the report include airline personnel, choreographers, physicists, chief executives and agricultural producers. Those industries are also scaled most to least innovative, with more creative occupations like designers taking higher scores while more blue-collar jobs were assigned a lower score, with these values and their prominence in different metros impacting those communities' rankings.
The Jefferson City area received a 59 on the composite innovation index, ranking No. 157 for all metros, while the U.S. as a whole came in at 59.5. The metro area saw 1.4 percent of workers employed in innovative fields, or around 1,040 employees.
Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 10 percent of the area's employment makeup is chief executives, while artists make up nearly 5 percent and those working in the science sector are around 4.5 percent of the area.
The Capital City area had a wide lead over other Missouri metros in terms of its ranking, though index scores remained close. The St. Joseph region came in at No. 190 with an index of 58.9, St. Louis followed at No. 193 with an index of 58.87 and Columbia reached No. 199 with an index of 58.86. Kansas City followed at No. 202 with an index of 58.84, Springfield's 58.7 earned it the 234 spot and Joplin came in at No. 287 with an index of 58.22.
Despite the lower ranking, the weighted nature of the index still saw several communities -- St. Louis, Columbia, Kansas City and Springfield -- with higher overall percentages of innovative workers at 2.3 percent, 1.5 percent, 2.1 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.
Missouri ranked No. 31 among U.S. states with an index of 59.27 and 2.5 percent of workers in innovative fields. The U.S. as a whole, meanwhile, saw just over 3 percent of workers in an innovative position, amounting to around 4.4 million.
The report, compiled by research firm Smartest Dollar, ranked metros across the country based on their Occupation-Level Innovation Score, an index of the employment-weighted average of each metro area, as well as data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"Entrepreneurs, economic experts, public officials, and many more tout the benefits of innovation in the modern economy. Innovation can drive economic growth by creating new jobs or industries, improving efficiency and productivity, and raising quality of life," the report states, noting some calculations attribute 50 percent of annual gross domestic product growth to innovative industries.
Missouri metros' indexes ultimately weren't that far behind the top performers. No. 1 ranked metro area California-Lexington Park, Maryland, received an index score of nearly 64, while top-ranked state Massachusetts earned 61.
The report noted the highest index scores were in areas of the country that were considered knowledge hubs, like Massachusetts, as well as manufacturing-heavy areas like Michigan.
It also found little correlation between above-average pay and the innovative scale of an occupation, since wages fluctuate wildly from one profession to another.
The full report can be found at smartest dollar.com/research.