By The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss
JACKSON, Miss. —
It’s been a long time coming, but finally there are bright economic signs nationally that seem here to stay a while.
America’s economy, which sputtered in recovery the past couple of years since the “Great Recession” of 2008 officially ended is now humming with some real momentum. Consider only that America’s unemployment rate for February fell to 7.7 percent — the lowest national level since December 2008 — and that the long-suffering housing market continues building momentum.
Home prices are rising nationally, and home starts are up substantially. Inventory is shrinking in most areas, and interest rates are low — creating a win/win housing market for both buyers and sellers. ...
So while the economy is heating up nationally, it continues to lag a bit here.
“The economy is obviously still very weak. That’s not a big surprise,” said state economist Darren Webb. “We’ve been pretty well flat to declining since the recovery began.”
There are positives, of course. Rankin County has the lowest unemployment rate in the state, at 6.6 percent in January. Also, most economists expected Mississippi’s recovery to lag a bit behind the rest of the nation, especially since the state was hit by the recession after the rest of the country.
Because it did not have the same exposure to financial services and a housing bubble like the rest of the country in 2008, Mississippi wasn’t thrust into recession as rapidly. Naturally, its recovery may be a bit behind for similar reasons.
There’s also this: Mississippi relies heavily upon low-skill jobs and federal money, which don’t respond to economic stimulation the way industries do. So while numbers are turning positive nationally Mississippi still has some catching up to do.
The good news, though, is that if history stays on course, the improving economy nationally is a sign of future improvement for the state.