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Is the Show-Me State showing a little rust? Are other states rocketing ahead of us in population and popularity? Is our state's ability to create and retain good jobs losing stature?

On Sunday, we reported Missouri's population has stagnated, leaving forecasters to speculate why.

The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center released a report early this century that projected the residents of the state to number 6.8 million by 2030 — about 21 percent. But after close to two-thirds through that time period, we've grown a scant 2 percent.

We've gone from the fifth most populous state to the 17th by 2000.

Urban areas such as St. Louis and Kansas City aren't growing, a research geographer at the University of Missouri said.

What's to blame? The Great Recession of 2008 greatly limited migration to our state, some say. Experts question whether falling job creation prevents people from moving here. Although it has been suggested Missouri's tax structure could be preventing migration into Missouri, data doesn't' support that hypothesis, the geographer said.

Some states, such as Florida and Texas, don't have a personal income tax. Different groups in Missouri are pushing for the Show-Me State to nix its income tax and property tax.

Would either encourage people to migrate here? Perhaps, but doing so would create another problem: Which of our governmental services are we willing to do without?

Property taxes pay for a considerable part of public education, which is a big key to economic growth. Job creation and an educated workforce go hand in hand.

Our own Cole County has room for improvement in this area. Only 31.4 percent of county residents have college degrees, which is 2 percent lower than the national average.

As we reported, Missouri is losing more college graduates than it's attracting, many of whom are college graduates looking to live in places where they can telecommute.

Looking at the data in a vacuum, you might think Missouri is going the way of the dodo bird. It's not. Missouri has a lot of things going for it, including record-low unemployment.

And while we're not growing as fast as the experts forecast, we're still growing. A continued focus on education, job creation and low taxes will ensure we have a bright future.

News Tribune

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