Most Missourians have bleak outlook on economy, survey finds

Despite sentiment, economic indicators largely positive, experts said
Most Missouri voters believe the state's economy is in "fair" or even "poor" condition
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 5:36 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2023 at 10:21 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KFVS) - More than 53 percent of Missouri voters who answered a recent SLU/YouGov poll said that the state’s economy is in “fair” condition, while 26 percent of them said it’s in “poor” condition.

The numbers are even worse when asked about the U.S. economy.

Jeff Pinkerton, director of economic research for the Missouri Department of Economic Development, said the data shows that the state’s economy is actually in a relatively strong position.

“I see a strong economy and I would probably put it a little higher than fair,” Pinkerton said. “We’re off to a really good start on this ‘restart,’ if you will, as far at the economy is going. We’re adding a lot of jobs.”

Pinkerton noted that many of those jobs are materializing in more-profitable industries, including manufacturing.

In August, General Mills announced an expansion in Joplin and in June, Carlisle Construction Materials opened a new manufacturing facility in Sikeston.

Missouri’s unemployment rate is a full percentage point below that of the U.S.

“I think we may be entering into a transition point, because we’ve gone from a period where it’s a very, very tight labor market, – the story has been businesses cannot find enough workers to grow their their companies, – and we’re starting to see that change a little bit,” Pinkerton said.

The change can be seen in the number of job openings across the state which is starting to level off and even decrease.

There’s also more and more job turnover, another indication of a healthier job market.

“If quits are up, that means [those employees] feel they can leave a job for a higher paying job and competently find one,” Pinkerton said. “That’s starting to fade a little bit.”

Experts say everyday consumers can focus on two indicators to get a sense of the economy’s health: The rate of job growth and the consumer price index, which tracks the inflation rate.

Those data will tell you how the economy is directly impacting consumers.