Missouri’s Weak Employment Mirrors Weak Economic Growth
Last week I posted a comparison of output in Missouri to that of the United States. The bottom line is that since the late 1990s Missouri has lagged behind the nation when it comes to producing goods and services. With the most recent employment figures out, it appears that Missouri isn’t doing any better there, either.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly release of employment data revealed that there has been meager growth in Missouri jobs over the past year. Between May 2015 and May 2016 there was an increase of about 24,000 jobs, or less than a one-percent increase. Is this slow increase a recent phenomenon or something more persistent?
The chart above plots total non-farm employment since 1990 for both Missouri and the United States. To make the two series comparable, each is indexed to their January 1990 values. The two lines show that jobs in Missouri and the nation both react to changes in economic activity. They both expanded during the economic boom of 1992. Conversely, employment fell during the recession that occurred in 1991, and during the so-called Great Recession, which lasted from 2007 through 2009, employment dropped significantly.
What makes the chart interesting is the fact that while Missouri’s job growth kept pace with the nation for most of the 1990s, it has lagged far behind since then. From the beginning of 2000 to the beginning of 2016, employment at the national level increased by about 9 percent. Missouri, in contrast, has seen employment increase by less than 2 percent. And while the nation has rebounded from the Great Recession with employment higher now than what it was in 2007, total employment in Missouri has changed very little.
To answer the question posed above, Missouri’s lack of job growth is a persistent phenomenon, one lasting well over the past decade.