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Center for Economics and the Environment: Policy Series


This article presents an overview of the state of the Missouri economy. We begin by assessing measures of economic output. Compared to the nation and to neighboring states, Missouri’s economy has hardly grown over the past 20 years. We identify several sources for this lackluster record. Perhaps one of the most important is the observation is that productivity in Missouri—output per worker—is lower than the national average. This poor productivity record quite possibly stems from two sources. One is problematic trends in labor force quality. A key factor here is a lack of commitment by the state to a higher educational system that is capable of producing a sufficient number of college-educated individuals. The other is an environment that not only does not attract well-educated individuals from outside the state, but induces domestic residents to leave for better opportunities elsewhere. This “brain drain” is detrimental to the state’s economic future. The other is the composition of the state’s industries. Perhaps a relic of past industrial policy, Missouri’s industrial make-up today is one that is weighted too heavily toward nongrowth industries. This mix of industries has proved to be a drag on the state’s economic growth. Based on our analysis, we offer several policy prescriptions. In the final analysis, Missouri needs more productivity, more highly educated workers, and more jobs for these productive and highly educated workers.

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Dr. Timothy J. Gronberg is Professor and Head of the Department of Economics at Texas A&M University.

Dr. Dennis W. Jansen is Professor and Director of the Private Enterprise Research Center at Texas A&M University.

Dr. Lori L. Taylor is Professor and Director of the Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics and Public Policy at the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M University. Ms. Su-Chin Hsu provided able research assistance on this project.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.