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12/18/2007 - Jackson, Miss.

The December issue of the Mississippi Economic Review and Outlook, published by the Center for Policy Research and Planning of the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL), is now available online at www.mississippi.edu/URC.html. The articles in this issue focus on the national economy, the state economy, and the economic status of African-Americans in Mississippi.

National Economic Outlook. Nationally, the housing market has not yet hit bottom. Housing starts are down 54 percent from the first quarter of 2006, and housing prices are falling. By 2009, housing prices may be as much as 11 percent lower than they were at the market peak, the steepest drop seen since the 1930s. However, the U.S. economy will likely be able to avoid a recession, and an upturn is forecast before the end of 2008.

Mississippi Economic Forecast. Mississippi has out-performed the rest of the country this year, but the slowing national economy is already pulling down the state’s growth rate, which will be less in 2008 than it has been this year. While any fall in housing prices will be less severe in Mississippi than in the rest of the nation, foreclosures and delinquency rates remain high in the state, and a further worsening of the situation is expected. However, the state economy will maintain a healthy level of activity, with employment growth remaining close to 1 percent in 2008. There will be a gain in momentum by the end of 2008, and a further upswing in 2009. Over the next five years, the state’s per capita income gap with the rest of the nation is expected to remain the same. Madison is the only county in Mississippi with a per capita income greater than the U.S. average. A map showing trends in per capita income by county in relation to the U.S. average is provided.

Economic Status of African-Americans in the State. Although there has been a rapid growth of firm ownership by African-Americans and a rapid increase in levels of educational attainment as well, the income gap between white and black households has widened since 1999. “Mississippi’s programs need to be evaluated not only on the basis of their overall impact on the state, but also in terms of their impact on each demographic group. For example, the fact that black women here earn only 69 percent of what their sisters earn nationally merits attention, especially in light of the fact that white men here earn 88 percent of what their national counterparts make,” states Dr. Marianne Hill, senior economist, the study’s author. This research study provides graphs and figures depicting income distribution, home ownership, educational levels, wage gaps, and trends in earnings, education, and firm ownership.

For more information, contact Dr. Marianne Hill, senior economist, at 601-432-6376. The full text of the Mississippi Economic Review and Outlook is available at www.mississippi.edu/URC.html.


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