One would think that Missouri is rebounding from the recession with great vigor, judging from all of the governor’s jaunts to this corner of the state and to that corner of the state and seemingly all the points in between in which he announces new jobs are being created right and left.
One would think that Missouri is a magnet for new and expanding business after a decade of pro-business laws passed by the Missouri legislature. Each of the proposals is touted as encouraging job creation and making Missouri more business friendly.
We’ve seen and heard all of this and we’ve passed it along to our listeners and readers as all dutiful reporters to.
But now comes the United States Department of Commerce to tell us Missouri’s economy ranked 43rd in the nation in growth last year. The Commerce Department calculates our economy grew by four one-hundredths of one percent in 2011 after growing by 2.1% in 2010. The National Average for 2011 was 1.5%. So we’re dutifully passing that information along to you, too.
Obviously the Commerce Department has not been attending the governor’s big announcements. Obviously the Commerce Department has not been paying attention to all of the great job-creation and retention legislation the legislature has approved in the last decade that surely have made Missouri the economic development Garden of Eden that supporters of the legislation have said it would become.
The department, in fact, says almost every part of Missouri’s economy grew by less than the national average last year—-or shrank.
Of course, the state economic development department is poo-pooing the department study. State agencies almost always are dismissive of studies that show Missouri isn’t keeping up with the rest of the country. After all, what administration, regardless of the party controlling it, wants to accept reports from outsiders that we are not as good as we say we are? Their research is always faulty. The categories on which they base their studies are wrong. They used outdated figures. Things have changed since the period on which the study was based. Studies that show Missouri is less than its leaders want its citizens to believe it is are clearly wrong, wrong, wrong.
But rest assured there are always silver bullets in the political gun. One silver bullet for the last couple of years has been Right to Work. Another magic bullet from last year was the proposed Aerotropolis for St. Lous that would trigger massive economic growth in eastern Missouri. Tort reform was a magic bullet in its day. And we could go on and on.
It must be acknowledged that some things are pretty obvious. The unemployment rate in Missouri is down. The state releases those numbers every month although it is reluctant to calculate how many unemployed people are not in the calculation because they’ve exhausted their benefits and still don’t have jobs or who have just given up. It is true that GM is expanding big-time in Wentzville and Ford is sinking a ton of money in its production facilities at Claycomo. It’s been months since the state has taken over a troubled bank. So there is good news although the commerce department report indicates that bright spot is just some reflection off a needle in the economic development haystack.
One of these years the experts will pronounce the recession is fully over and our economy has fully recovered. That’s when we’ll see if all of the legislature’s work pays off for anybody but bosses and stockholders and whether Missouri uses all these tools to create a Show-Me State Boom.
Watch for this commerce department report to fuel campaign ads this summer. This situation has to be somebody’s fault!
Year after year, the Missourinet has reported that Missouri is 40-something is various categories including education funding, prison funding, social services funding, cigarette taxes—it’s a long list.
The great vaudeville comedian Myron Cohen often told the story on the Ed Sullivan Show–years after vaudeville died–of the husband who opened a closet door in his bedroom and found a naked man inside. “What are you doing in there?” shouted the enraged husband. “Well,” said the naked man, searching for an answer, “Everybody’s got to be someplace.”
Our “someplace,” despite all of the pro-business legislation adopted for a decade and despite all of the job announcements by our ever-visible governor is 43rd according to the commerce department.