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Our Opinion: State’s economy chugging along

April 26, 2022 at 3:55 a.m.

We're buoyed by reports showing Missouri is among the states leading the way in economic recovery since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Missouri has recovered more than 95 percent of the jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. That's according to the most recent quarterly economic report by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce.

The Show-Me State has added back 357,200 of the jobs lost, said Ted Abernathy, managing partner of Economic Leadership LLC, in a story we recently published.

"Ten states have made it back above pre-pandemic levels, and while Missouri is still just below this point, it is still among the leading states in recovery," Abernathy said.

Some areas of the economy have vaulted above pre-pandemic levels. Construction, for instance, has grown 7.5 percent above what it was when the pandemic started in 2020.

The unemployment rate has also snapped back from its dismal pandemic numbers. The Missouri Department of Labor reports that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased by one-tenth of a percentage point in March.

Our rate of 3.6 percent is on par with the nation overall. Missouri's unemployment rate has been at or below the national rate for the last five years.

Our state still has work to do. Some cities have more than others. Jefferson City still lags behind some cities, such as Columbia, Joplin and Springfield.

Missouri's shrinking labor pool is another problem. Blame lower birth rates, fewer immigrant workers and a high number of employees who took early retirement during the pandemic.

Hopefully, the focus on workforce development by Gov. Mike Parson and the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development will help.

For now, we commend our leaders and our workforce for their perseverance and work ethic to bring our state's economy back from an economy-destroying pandemic.

News Tribune

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