JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri's economic growth remained stagnant this past year, ranking near the bottom nationally and trailing every state in the Midwest.
Yet Missouri's unemployment rate remains better than the national average, recently ranking in the top 10 among states in terms of improvement.
Which of these facts matters more?
When it comes to elections, research shows that voters pay more attention to the unemployment rate -- even though it is a less meaningful figure.
David Mitchell directs the Bureau of Economic Research at Missouri State University. His research shows that incumbent governors have an increased probability of winning when the local unemployment rate is better than elsewhere. He says it's often too complicated for voters to grasp broader measurements of the economy, such as the real gross domestic product.