According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mississippi’s unemployment rate sits at 6.4% as of March 15th, down from the pandemic peak of 15.7%. That is a 59% decrease since April 2020.
This is positive news for the state, though it has gone under-reported in newspapers and television broadcasts, as has the fact that Mississippi leads the nation with the highest percent increase in new business applications between January 2020 and January 2021, a whopping 164%, with over 6,000 new applications in January 2021 alone.
National media often shows up in Mississippi when things are in flux, resulting in painting the state in a negative light. Unfortunately, most state media tends to operate in a similar vein, piling on when things are tough but failing to highlight the positives when Mississippi is on an upswing. That appears to be the case with the unemployment rate, business growth and state revenue.
Mississippi’s unemployment rate is only fractionally above the national average of 6.2%.
The unemployment rate in Mississippi pre-COVID was 5.6% in January 2020.
The lowest Mississippi unemployment rate reported is 4.7% in December 2017.
Total state revenue collections for the month of February FY 2021 were 18.24% above the Legislature’s sine die revenue estimate. The declining state unemployment rate combined with significant increases in tax receipts that are substantially above projections – $500 million in February 2021 – speaks to a generally healthy Mississippi economy, at least in historical terms.
Neighboring Southern states are seeing similar declines in unemployment, with rates below Mississippi. Alabama sits at 4.3%, while Arkansas is 4.6% and Tennessee is 5.1%. Louisiana is above the Magnolia State at 7.6%.
The lowest state unemployment rates are 3.1% in South Dakota and Utah, both Republican states. The highest state unemployment rates are in Democratic states. They are Hawaii (10.2%), California (9%), New York (8.8%) and New Mexico (8.7%).