Missouri boasts economic conditions that are healthy and beginning to open some significant new pathways to success for the Show-Me State.
With an agricultural base so solid it is often taken for granted, Missouri surprisingly thrives in tourism, life sciences and international trade. In fact, the last two are fast becoming Missouri’s biggest economic-development opportunities and offer undeniable promise for growth in the near future. Although most of Missouri shares some of these trends, St. Louis has vaulted into a position as one of the nation’s top bioscience centers, while Kansas City has carved out its own life-sciences sector and is on its way to becoming a major inland port for world trade.
Testament to the stability of the Missouri economy, the state GDP withstood the worst that the Great Recession could throw at it in 2009, actually ticking up by more than $1 billion during the 2008-09 heart of that dark time, before taking off again and increasing 10 percent over the next five years, to $279 billion.
Missouri’s Purchasing Managers’ Index took a hugely optimistic turn in early 2016, soaring 6.9 points in April alone to reach 57.0, up from 50.1 just a month earlier, according to the Mid-American Business Conditions Survey, conducted by Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. That was considerably higher than the national figure of 50.8 the Mid-America regional average of 50.0.
Typically, a score greater than 50 indicates an expansionary economy, while a score below 50 forecasts a sluggish economy for the next three to six months. Economists consider the PMI index a key economic indicator because of its examination of factors such as new orders, production, supplier delivery times, backlogs, inventories, prices, employment, import orders and exports.
In retail and other sales areas, Missouri’s overall picture remained better than stable—between 2012 and 2014 alone, sales and use taxes increased by more than $180 million statewide as consumers began to release the iron grip they had held on their wallets during a flat recovery following the recession.
Missouri’s seasonally adjusted taxable sales have generally mirrored the trends in U.S. retail spending. Retail sales account for approximately 65 percent of taxable sales in Missouri, with an additional 10 percent from wholesale trade, 10 percent from service industries such as hotels and amusement parks, 10 percent from communications industries, and five percent from other industries.
Driven primarily by shipments to Canada, Mexico and China, Missouri’s exports for 2014 totaled $14.1 billion, a healthy 9 percent jump in just a single year, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. Almost all of Missouri’s product categories increased in that span, with aerospace parts leading the way on a 60 percent surge, to $814 million. The heavy lifting, though, was done by transportation equipment ($3.32 billion), chemicals ($2.3 billion), and food products ($1.6 billion).
Missouri also relies heavily on its agricultural sector for economic output, and that includes the hundreds of companies that process, package and distribute those goods locally and globally. In fact, the state generated $5.2 billion in economic output from this sector in 2014, with more than half of that figure connected to livestock and poultry production. Not only is the rural economy thriving, but it’s better educated, as well: Since 1980, the numbers of residents holding bachelor’s degrees or higher has nearly doubled in rural areas of the state.