Moving Your Community Forward

As the state emerges from the most recent recession and continues to experience economic growth, it behooves individual communities to take stock of their own economic situation and follow a path to set their economic future.

One of the most effective methods of a community taking charge if its economic future is by implementing a grass-roots based economic and community development based strategic planning process that utilizes objective baseline socio-economic data to provide the community’s leaders (both elected and non-elected) with a firm foundation from which to analyze internal and external factors that affect a community’s future.

The economic development faculty within the Department of Agricultural Economic has significant experience in deriving and assembling the types of data needed to provide a clear picture to your community leaders. For further information and assistance, please contact Alan Barefield (662.325.7995;, James Barnes (662.325.1796; or Becky Smith (662.325.1793;

MS State Economist Projects Continued Growth

Dr. Darrin Webb, Mississippi State Economist and MSU Agricultural Economics alumnus, presented the 2014 Legislative Economic Briefing on January 14. This briefing provided some welcome highlights to the economic situation for the state. In short, the Mississippi economy is growing, but mainly in terms of jobs (income growth continues to be relatively slow). The Index of Coincident Indicators has risen fairly steadily since January 2012 and the November 2013 index was slightly above its pre-recession levels.

However, employment growth has been relatively strong with a 1.71% increase from 2012-2013 (the U.S. growth in the same time frame was 1.6%) and 53 of the state’s 82 counties experienced some job growth. Overall, Mississippi gained almost 19,000 jobs with the largest growth sectors being professional services, construction, and leisure and hospitality. The manufacturing work week length experienced an increase in mid-2011 and has remained higher than pre-recession levels.

However, income growth has not fared as well. While year-over-year percentage growth in real personal income less transfer payments has remained positive since the 4th quarter of 2011, this growth is experiencing declines. Likewise, the growth in real state income tax withholdings has fallen and Mississippi ranks 44th in the growth of wage and salary disbursements.

The University Research Center projects that real output for the state will continue to grow through 201, but at slower rates than were seen in the early 1990s. Much of the recent growth has been due to low-wage and temporary jobs, but it is anticipated that Mississippi should improve as the national economy improves and that the state is on track to reach the revised 2014 estimates.

Dr. Webb’s complete presentation can be viewed at

County Economic Profiles

Mississippi’s economy is recovering from the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing recession. Analysis indicates that the government, retail trade and health care sectors are experiencing advancements in competitive advantage and that total output for the state is increasing with the Utilities, Finance and Insurance, and Real Estate and Rental and Leasing sectors leading the way with double digit growth from 2007-2012. The small business sector is also experiencing growth with over 15,000 businesses opening and over 8,000 expanding (for the 9 employees or less size classification) for 2012. The state’s strongest employment sectors are local and state government, food services and drinking places and health care related sectors. For detailed information on each Mississippi county, visit

Economic Output for Mississippi’s Counties

Most of us understand that the term “Gross Domestic Product” refers to the monetary value of value added output of the United States.  But we may not realize that this same concept can be applied to states and counties as indicators of economic growth.

From 2007 to 2012, gross product for Mississippi increased by almost $300 million (33.4%) in real terms (see the following table).  And the changes for individual counties were just as varied.  From a high of 131.6% change for Kemper County (primarily due to the utilities and construction sectors) to a decline of 53.6% for Tunica County (declines in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector overrode several sector expansions), Mississippi’s counties have experienced a large number of economic expansions and declines.

On a state-wide basis, the largest gains (in percentage terms) have come from private educational services (32.5%) and utilities (17.5%) while the largest declines have been in manufacturing (-16.2%) and arts, entertainment and recreation (-31.5%).  And while the largest expansions and contractions have been concentrated in the state’s most populous counties, many of Mississippi’s small counties have experienced large absolute impacts as well.


For further information, a set of county economic and retail profiles for Mississippi can be found at