State economy not catching up with national average

Published 7:00 am Friday, March 10, 2017

The Magnolia State is in a bind. Pearl River County is not the only area within the state and country that needs to boost economic development.

It appears as the entire state is experiencing a lull in workforce participation, according to a report presented to the legislation by State Economist Darrin Web.

His report states that Mississippi’s employment rate in December of last year was less than that of Dec. 2007. 

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According to the Associated Press, his report found that only 56 percent of the available workforce is either working or looking for a job.

That puts Mississippi second to last on that list, with only West Virginia reporting a lower rate at 53 percent. Both states are well below the national average of 63 percent.

But there was one bright spot for our state in the report; Mississippi’s female population between the ages of 35 to 44 was above the national average concerning workforce participation.

When people don’t work, they can’t pay taxes. So, the low work force participation reported recently is one of the reasons the Governor’s office had to make two rounds of budget cuts. The AP story states that even with the cuts, another may be needed as tax collections continue to dip.

While Bryant did not positively state that cuts would be needed in the AP story, he did say that if revenue continued on the current path, either cuts or digging into the “rainy day fund” would be necessary to balance the budget.

What should be of greater concern is not that Mississippi is so low on the workforce participation list, but that the problem appears to be prevalent across the nation, leaving the working class to support the rest.

It would be near impossible to ever have 100 percent workforce participation, but we as a state, and a nation, should strive to get as close as possible by ensuring that continued focus on economic development creates jobs for those willing to work.