Haley Barbour came out with a new state-wide TV ad this week claiming Mississippi’s economy has improved under his leadership. The facts, however, tell a different story.

“In his latest TV ad, Governor Haley Barbour asks voters to look at his record,” said Sharon Garrison, spokeswoman for Eaves for Governor. “Unfortunately for Barbour, his record doesn’t match his rhetoric.”

Unemployment:

According to the Department of Labor’s Current Population Survey, Mississippi has the second highest unemployment rate in the nation at 6.7%. In his commercial Barbour says that “Tennessee and Alabama are going to be out hustlin’ to business too,” and indeed they have been, along with the rest of the South. Mississippi’s jobless rate is higher than all of our neighbors – higher than Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, even higher than Louisiana.

Since January 2004, Mississippi has had a full 1.0% increase in unemployment (up from 5.7% to 6.7%) – that is the largest increase in unemployment percentage in the nation.

Mississippi’s Unemployment Rate – Then and Now

State
January 2004
June 2007

Unemployment Rate
Unemployment Rate Ranking
Unemployment Rate
Unemployment Rate Ranking

Mississippi
5.7
36th – tied
6.7
49th

Alabama
6.0
39th
3.7
10th – tied

Tennessee
4.9
22nd
4.1
20th – tied

Arkansas
5.2
27th – tied
5.5
43rd – tied

Louisiana
6.1
40th
3.9
15th – tied

Manufacturing Jobs:

In 2003, Barbour ran advertisements against Governor Musgrove attacking him for losing manufacturing jobs. Barbour said he would bring back these jobs, but Mississippi has lost 7,500 manufacturing jobs since January 2004. Louisiana has gained 1,200.

The state economist Phil Pepper, according to an 8/23 article in the Daily Journal, said that on a statewide basis we’ve has had a net loss of 3,500 manufacturing jobs from one year ago. “We’re still losing low-skill, low wage jobs in rural areas,” Pepper said.

Manufacturing Jobs – Then and Now

State
January 2004
July 2007
Difference

Mississippi
178,700
171,200
-7,500

Louisiana
153,400
154,600
1,200

Explaining the Difference:

So how can Mississippi have more jobs than ever before, yet still have the second highest unemployment rate in the country? The figures used by Barbour’s campaign come from a survey of business owners (Current Employment Statistics Program, or CES) and reflect “persons on payroll,” while the unemployment figures come from surveys of households (Current Population Survey, or CPS). Both surveys are conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Department of Labor.

Part of the difference can be explained by population growth and double counting of individuals holding multiple jobs, but could also come from business owners unknowingly reporting illegal immigrants on their payroll. As Barbour said at the Mississippi Press Association’s convention at the Beau Rivage Casino on June 22, 2007, before Katrina there were hardly any illegal immigrants. “Since Katrina there’s been a gigantic influx and, candidly… I hate to think where the coast would be if they weren’t here.”

Audio is available at http://starkvillenow.com/2007/06/22/first-on-starkvillenow-gov-haley-barbour-press-conference-from-biloxi/, the comment begins at 34:10 in the recording.

John Eaves Press Release
9/6/7