Our economy takes step back for every one forward

Published 1:58 pm Thursday, September 27, 2012

Times are still tough in Mississippi.

Sadly, that’s no unusual position for the Magnolia State to be in, with its traditionally high unemployment, poverty and dropout rates and low median household income.

Yes, the economy here — as in the rest of the country — isn’t in the abyss it was three or four years ago.

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But it’s clear that any recovery or optimism surrounding Mississippi’s economy will be tempered for a long time by doses of cold, hard reality.

While Canton is welcoming 1,000 new jobs through the addition later this year of three vehicle lines at Nissan’s assembly plant, Clinton will lose 90-100 jobs early next year when Automatic Data Processing consolidates solutions-center operations into a company facility in Augusta, Ga.

ADP has operated a solutions center in Clinton since 2008. The facility was announced the previous year, just as a historic recession began to take hold, with company officials saying as many as 1,000 people could be working at its Clinton office by this year.

But that was 2007. Then, the promise of a throng of jobs from a company like ADP and a slew of new commercial and residential developments planned for the metro area had locals brimming with the prospect of a significant transformation of what metro Jackson is and could become.

Five years later? Cold, hard reality.

ADP never could fulfill its lofty employment goals. … For every step forward, it seems there’s a step back. High jobless numbers butt against rising housing starts and building permits. A strong month for retail sales is checked by higher gas prices.

Need more reality? State economist Darrin Webb told lawmakers recently that Mississippi likely entered into its very own recession between April and June and seems set to stay there through at least the end of this month. …

Times are tough. But so are we.

We can ride the recession out and look forward to the better days that surely will come, even if they come slowly.