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Missouri officially in recession

November 29, 2001
By: Nicholas Rummell
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY -Missouri is officially in a recession, according to Economic Development Director Joe Driskill.

The recession, which reportedly began this past summer, is forecast by Driskill to hopefully recover by late summer 2002, although there is no definite end to the tunnel in sight, he said.

"No one really knows for sure what will happen," said Driskill. "The tragic events of Sept. 11 have cast a cloud of uncertainty over our state and nation."

Driskill attributed mass layoffs, decreasing industrial production, and lukewarm holiday retail sales to Missouri's economic downturn, and advised Missourians to spend their money during the holiday season instead of saving it.

"I'm clearly concerned that our economic vitality is suffering along with the rest of the nation," he said. "But it is up to the governor and the general assembly to put forth the proper policies."

While not suggesting any policies, Driskill did reinforce his support of constructing a new Cardinals stadium in St. Louis -- where the majority of unemployment was found -- to stimulate the economy.

In response to Driskill's report, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce stated that the announcement of state recession could actually hurt the economy further.

"The state leadership should be bolstering consumer confidence rather than issuing what could be turn out to be a premature announcement of economic disaster," said Ray McCarty, the Chamber's Director of Fiscal Affairs.

Gov. Bob Holden is examining several options to do just that and buoy the state's economy, said spokesman Jerry Nachtigal.

"The earlier cuts were difficult," said Nachtigal, referring to $323 million in budget cuts made during the special session. "These will be extremely difficult. Every state program will feel the sting."

State layoffs are also a possibility, according to Nachtigal, who said that the administration is closely watching what is going on in Congress.

"We're all hoping for a good, strong stimulus package," he said.

Despite hopes pinned to federal monies, however, Holden hasn't proposed any stimulus packages of his own to the Missouri legislature.

A report from the Bush administration Wednesday said that the federal government expected budget deficits for at least the next three years, attributed by many to the growing recession and massive anti-terrorism costs.

Some Democrats in Washington hold Bush's $1.35 million tax cut that was signed into law in June responsible, stating that deficits were imminent even before Sept. 11.