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MERIC is the research division for the Missouri Department of Economic Development. We provide innovative analyses and assistance to policymakers and the public, including studies of the state’s economic trends, targeted industries, and labor markets. MERIC research also includes workforce region studies, spatial analyses, and comprehensive coverage of the state’s industry and occupational data produced in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor. MERIC has been recognized with 14 national awards for research excellence since it was formed in 2001.
MERIC derives the cost of living index for each state by averaging the indices of participating cities and metropolitan areas in that state. Cities across the nation participate in the Council for Community & Economic Research (C2ER) survey on a volunteer basis. Price information in the survey is governed by C2ER collection guidelines which strive for uniformity. Missouri’s 2017 cost of living index was 89.9, which stands at sixth lowest cost of living in the United States in 2017. In general, the most expensive areas to live were Hawaii, Alaska, the West Coast, and the Northeast. The least expensive areas were the Midwest and Southern states. All of the participating Missouri cities had a composite Cost of Living Index below the national average in 2017. The Missouri city with the lowest cost of living index in 2017 was Joplin, with an index of 86.3. The city with the highest cost of living was Columbia, with an index of 92.9, although it was still well below the national average.