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David Nicklaus is a business columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The GM Wentzville Plant Depends on Robots

Two frame-flipping robots turn over the 2,000 pound frames of trucks and vans on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, at the GM truck and van assembly plant in Wentzville. The robots do many of the jobs that workers used to do. The frame starts out upside down in the assembly process and then the robots flip the frames over. Photo by J.B. Forbes, jforbes@post-dispatch.com

Missouri's gross domestic product grew 5.1 percent in this year's second quarter, the state's best economic performance in more than five years.

Missouri's growth rate between April and June ranked third among the states, trailing only Texas and Michigan.

The durable goods manufacturing sector was the biggest contributor to Missouri's growth in the quarter, according to Commerce Department data. Agriculture was the second-largest contributor.

U.S. GDP grew 4.2 percent, adjusted for inflation, in the same three-month period. It was only the third time in the last 20 quarters that Missouri's growth rate has outpaced the nation's.

The last time Missouri recorded growth higher than 5.1 percent was in the first quarter of 2013, when its GDP rose 7.9 percent.

Illinois's second-quarter growth rate of 3.6 percent ranked 32nd.

Missouri's GDP -- the value of all goods and services produced in the state -- amounts to $316 billion at an annualized rate, or 1.6 percent of the $20 trillion U.S. economy. Illinois' GDP totals $859 billion, or 4.2 percent.

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