Is Missouri's economy expanding?

Attracting new businesses to Missouri will be the focus of this fall's special legislative session.

If the businesses come and start hiring, it could be good news for the state's unemployment rate, which sits at 8.8 percent.

That's slightly below the national rate of 9.2 percent.

KRCG's Facebook Crew looked into the numbers Monday to find out what Missouri needs to do to leave the great recession behind us.

Missouri TMs unemployment rate peaked in August 2009 at nearly 10-percent, or almost 300,000 Missourians unemployed.

Fast forward two years, and the jobless rate has improved somewhat, to 8.8 percent, or a little more than 267,000 Missourians unemployed.

But those numbers don't show the whole story.

The number of people actually working has stayed stagnant since 2009.

An economist from William Woods University told me Missouri TMs economy expanded a little after the recession.

"I would say right now that the economy is expanding to try to get back to its full employment level of production, William Woods University Assistant Professor of Economics Dr. Steve Huenneke said.

Economists said that the great recession officially ended in June 2009.

So when will the jobs come back?

"Typically the labor market is one of the last areas of the economy to really recover. The unemployment rate tends to lag the business cycle, Huenneke said.

Huenneke said while jobs should return, Missouri TMs economy will be forever changed.

"When we have an event like we went through for the past 3 or 4 years we sorta of go toward a new normal. So part of what will cause the economy to bounce back is a move in new directions, new pathways, and new opportunities, Huenneke said.

It's those opportunities Missouri lawmakers hope to create by passing economic incentives for businesses, and tax incentives to create an international air cargo hub at Lambert Airport in St. Louis.

The Joplin tornado has also made an impact on Missouri's unemployment.

The Department of Economic Development said the Joplin area lost 9,400 jobs after the tornado.

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There is almost three million people working in Missouri. But right now there is still over 200,000 workers unemployed.

Tonight at ten KRCG's Facebook Crew takes a look back into the past at Missouri's Labor statistics to find out if the economy is growing.

Tell us what you think. Do you think Missouri's economy is growing?