JEFFERSON CITY - The state economy, in terms of employment and sales, is the worst it has been in ten years, Missouri Economic Development Director Joe Driskill is expected to announce today.
Driskill has scheduled a briefing with reporters to discuss the state's economic condition heading into the legislative session that begins in January.
Driskill likened the current economic downturn to the recessions of the early 1990s and early '80s. Workers laid off in Missouri now number over 20,000, a level only reached in those two previous recessions.
The National Bureau of Economic Research's Business Cycle Dating Committee announced Monday that 10 years of economic expansion ended in March and the country has been in a recession ever since.
The economists also said economic decline had been occurring so gradually that a recession might not have occurred except for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Recession generally is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth, which has not yet occurred. The quarter ending Sept. 30 was the first period of negative growth in 10 years.
Unemployment in Missouri increased in October to 4.5 percent from September's rate of 4.2 percent. It still compared favorably to October's national rate of 5.4 percent, which jumped from 4.9 percent in September.
Driskill said sales are also down significantly, although the normal holiday season shopping increase is not expected to be as great as in previous years.
Earlier this month, State Budget Director Brian Long warned that if current economic conditions continue until the end of the year, the budget will fall short by $70 million. He repeated his warning to a meeting of the Senate Transportation Committee Tuesday.
The state already cut $323 million in spending due to budget shortfalls this summer. More cuts may be necessary if the deficits continue. The governor's spokesman, Jerry Nachtigal, has refused to rule out state employee layoffs.
The state's budget woes led Gov. Bob Holden to ask Driskill to cut $7.5 million of tax credits. A committee studying where to make cuts expects to issue its report to Driskill in the next few days.
Last year's cost of $163 million is expected to swell to $225 million by the end of this year.
Driskill will be joined by Carol Fischer, director of the Revenue Department, at today's press briefing.