Missouri’s Most Valuable Export Continues to Grow. . . . and That’s Not a Good Thing
If you had to guess what Missouri’s most valuable export was, what do you think it would be? Beer? Cars? Professional football teams? The answer might surprise you—read on while you ponder.
In 2014, Missouri saw record dollars in exports of goods. In addition, the state has enjoyed high levels of exports since 2012. Growth like this shows a strengthening ability of Missouri businesses to provide goods to consumers outside of the state. In return, it brings new money and investment to Missouri that can foster more private sector growth. because if Missourians buy more goods and services than they sell, then Missourians are promoting more outside investment in Missouri.
OK, so have you had time to reflect? Missouri’s most valuable export is . . . people. According to the IRS, Missouri is also seeing near-record exports of people. In 2014, nearly 65,000 tax filers left Missouri to live somewhere else. In fact, Missouri has been exporting more than 60,000 persons a year since 2011. Moreover, unlike exporting goods, exporting people could restrict Missouri’s economic performance.
If exports of people were counted and ranked among Missouri’s total exports, it would be the largest-valued loss in the state. This is because when people leave, they take their income with them.
|Product||Value to Missouri|
|IRS tax filers leaving Missouri||($3,364,024,000)|
|Machinery (except electrical)||$1,601,938,524|
|All other merchandise exports||$6,806,684,695|
(Source: Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration).
In 2014, exports of people took a potential 3.4 billion dollars out of the economy. That amounts to about 24% of the benefit Missouri gets from exporting goods. In terms of net migration, the number and income of those fleeing residents is strong enough to eclipse what we get from incoming residents by around 4,700 returns, or 309 million dollars of income.
Missouri’s economic environment, whether it’s tied to taxes or regulations, is costing us the very thing that their growing goods exports are supposed to reel in: people and their income. While strong exports of goods is a positive sign, Missouri exporting too many people can become a drag on the economy if not addressed.