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12/21/2009 - Jackson, Miss.

Total employment will likely not return to 2000 levels until 2013, according to the January 2010 issue of the Mississippi Economic Review and Outlook.

The report, published by the Center for Policy Research and Planning of the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL), analyzes the economic downturn in the state, focusing on trends in employment, revenues, housing and incomes. The likely course of the recovery is laid out by sector.

The full report is available online at www.mississippi.edu/urc.

Mississippi Economic Forecast. The full brunt of the recession has hit the state and is taking its toll. Falling tax revenues are triggering cuts in most state agencies. The unemployment rate is hovering near 10 percent and retail sales are down. Some sectors, however, are suffering more than others. Employment in health and education is up in comparison to last year but, in most sectors, jobs have been lost. Manufacturing employment is down 9.8 percent, and business and professional services employment is down 8 percent.

"With over 10 percent of working age adults either unemployed or out of the labor force, this recession is straining the capacity of many families to provide even the basics," said State Senior Economist Dr. Marianne Hill, who prepares the state economic forecast. "Most of these workers do not qualify for unemployment benefits." As the economy improves in the spring, discouraged workers will re-enter the job market, prolonging the high unemployment rates. The turnaround in the state economy is forecast for mid-2010, in line with national trends.

National Economic Outlook. Nationally, housing starts are up and manufacturing purchasing orders have been rising. But indicators are mixed: nonresidential construction continues to plunge and employment is still dropping. Commercial and industrial loans have been falling and foreclosures rising.

The recovery, which has already begun according to several indicators, lacks strong drivers on the demand side and so is forecast to be slow. Expenditures under the $787 billion stimulus package will be dropping by late 2010, and state governments, already struggling with budget cuts, will be hard-pressed to cope as federal dollars run out. Consumers are recovering from a 22 percent fall in their net worth, and so are not expected to be leaders in the recovery. Other countries are in a similar situation to the United States, keeping export demand moderate at best.

Mississippi and Health Care Reform. Dr. Hill provides an overview of Mississippi and health care reform, using data on cost, coverage and the quality of health care here and in the United States as a whole. "The reform and restructuring of the health care system will be neither easy nor straightforward, but it is a challenge that is of outstanding importance," Dr. Hill said.

Health and Educational Attainment. This study by Dr. Barbara Logue provides detailed data linking lower educational attainment to a higher incidence of many diseases. Dr. Logue said that there are steps that can be taken at several levels that "simultaneously reduce the need for expensive health services, use scarce resources more efficiently, create a healthier workforce, and enhance the quality of life in the state."


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