NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Politics, Elections and Government

Gov. Parson Touts Missouri's Economy As Vibrant, But Experts Say Numbers Have Mixed Value

Missouri Governor Mike Parson addresses senators and an audience gathered in the view gallery during his State of the State address on Wednesday, January 27, 2021, in the Senate Chambers of the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson addresses senators and an audience gathered in the view gallery during his State of the State address on Wednesday, January 27, 2021, in the Senate Chambers of the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City.

The governor’s talking points to highlight the state’s economic status cite various sources, and economists say some are more viable than others.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson often repeats some numbers designed to promote Missouri’s economy as healthy and vibrant.

But not all of those numbers have the same level of reliability, experts say.

“We’re now seventh in the United States of people wanting to come to our state. We’re in the top 10 for businesses wanting to come to the state of Missouri,” Parson said last week as he signed a bill that allowed for the collection of sales taxes on online purchases and also lowered the state’s highest income tax rate.

Those statistics come from U-Haul and Site Selectors Guild, according to a spokesperson for the governor.

Rankings from companies or associations may not be accurate, according to Max Gillman, economics professor at the University of Missouri St. Louis.

“I don’t know how U-Haul computes these measures and so, of course, the actual statistic and how it’s computed would be important,” Gillman said.

According to U-Haul’s web site, “growth states are calculated by the net gain of one-way U-Haul trucks entering a state versus leaving that state in a calendar year.”

Another moving company, United Van Lines, has a similar ranking based on its trucks. Missouri isn’t in its top 10, and there are only three states that are in the top 10 of both U-Haul and United Van Lines’ lists.

And while Missouri may be a top choice among the Site Selection Guild, it isn’t in the top 10 on Site Selection Magazine’s list.

But there is a statistic that Parson mentions consistently, and it is widely held as accurate and important: the unemployment rate.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the May unemployment rate in Missouri was 4.2%, lower than the national average of 5.5% and Illinois’ rate of 7.1%.

“That’s probably the most important statistic and with Missouri down into the four range, that’s very, very good after this pandemic,” Gillman said.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JonathanAhl

Copyright 2021 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

KCUR serves the Kansas City region with essential news and information.
Your donation today keeps local journalism strong.