The Clarion-Ledger Editorial, 1/1/9

Time is considered the great equalizer, and the new year provides many ironies and great challenges for our state.

While the top local stories for 2008 were the state judicial scandal, Jackson Mayor Frank Melton’s legal troubles, devastating metro-area weather and layoffs, the big story of 2009 is shaping up to continue to be the economy.

The judicial scandal is still unfolding, Melton’s trial is upcoming, and nobody can control the weather. But the economy offers the greatest challenge, and the greatest ironies.

The state and nation are facing the worst economic downturn since the Depression. The state shed 17,000 jobs between January and October alone, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Between 1994 and 2008, Mississippi lost 90,248 manufacturing jobs.

Part of that is the natural evolution of the state – and world – economy with manufacturing jobs fleeing out of the country in search of cheap labor. Now, that is compounded with the recession. Even one of the economic bright spots – Mississippi’s landing of the Toyota auto plant in Blue Springs – has been delayed “indefinitely” as the company also seeks to weather the economic storm.