This month MEPC will take a look at the state of jobs in Mississippi. Some of us recently enjoyed a three day weekend in celebration of Labor Day. The holiday allows for a bit of thought and discussion about the state of Mississippi’s employment numbers, particularly in comparison to our regional neighbors and the nation.
The national economy added approximately 209,000 jobs last month and averaged 277,000 per month over the second quarter. This is welcome news, although the growth rates are not as strong as one would hope them to be. Further, wage growth continues to be all but non-existent due to the amount of slack still in the labor market. Slack is a way of looking at underemployment in our country. Nominal year over year wage growth continues to just barely keep up with inflation.
Mississippi’s economy continues to recover from the “Great Recession” at a relatively slow clip. As Graph A shows, after three months of net job losses, overall 2014 has brought an increase in employment in Mississippi. Graph B, however, indicates a bit more volatility in regards to our unemployment rate. Mississippi’s unemployment rate was the highest in the nation for July, and was tied with Rhode Island for that dubious title in June. Graph B also shows that our regional neighbors are also sustaining lower unemployment rates than Mississippi.
Summed up, while Mississippi continues to gain needed jobs, there are still many individuals who are looking for work throughout our state. While the amount of jobs our state has and the corresponding employment rate is very important, it is also important to be sure that Mississippi has high quality jobs that pay decent wages and salaries. Next week, we’ll explore the prevalence of low-wage work in Mississippi.
-Deeneaus Polk, Policy Analyst