The latest labor market information indicates that Pearl River County has an unemployment rate of 8.0 %. Pearl River County ranked 23rd on the August 2013 report issued by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security; Rankin County topped the list with an unemployment rate of 4.7%. Comparisons with some of our neighboring counties find Lamar County at 5.9%, Harrison and Forrest Counties at
7.7%, Hancock County at 7.8%, and Marion County at 9.6%. The average
rate for all of Mississippi falls in at 8.4%.
In August 2012, the rate for Pearl River County was 9.0%, representing a single percentage point improvement for this past year. This positive news indicates that the local labor market is improving.
However, many more new jobs are needed to thrust the county to the 7.2% rate experienced in August 2008. This was just before the Great Recession devoured many jobs in South Mississippi and the rest of the United States.Ironically, some fields are currently (or are predicted to) experiencing labor shortages. Part of this is due to the fact that many baby boomers are expected to retire and leave the labor market.
Another reason for shortages is the skills mismatch taking place. Colleges, without as much media scrutiny as high schools, graduate just a little more than half of those that enroll. The reason that some drop out is that there is no clear career path. In other words, the student does not see a connection to what they are studying to what they will do upon graduation.
Fortunately, community colleges have clear connections to the labor market. Many programs at community colleges are geared specifically to prepare a student for a career. Just to mention a couple, the nursing profession is expected to create the most jobs in the United States over the next two decades.
Another area projected to grow significantly is the job market for medical billers and coders. Like nursing, life expectancy and the sheer volume of people living longer will create a bountiful job market for workers that document patient care. Billers and coders document a patient’s health record and subsequently develop an accounting of the charges that are passed on to insurance companies, Medicare or Medicaid, and the patient.
Students have the opportunity to enter fields that have direct paths to employment in this region. Pearl River Community College offers degrees and certificates in not only nursing and medical billing and coding, but many other areas with promising labor market projections.
Education attainment is a proven path to a career and to economic prosperity for local regions.