Much work needed to reverse losses

Published 8:35 pm Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Though the number lost was small, Mississippi’s population decreased from July 2017 to July 2018, according to the Census Bureau.

The state’s population of nearly 3 million was down 3,133 residents. As a percentage, the drop was a fraction of 1 percent, which seems meaningless, but Mississippi was one of only eight states that lost population.

A decrease of any amount is a bad sign that Mississippi is not trending in the right direction. The country, as a whole is growing, with some states racking up relatively large percentage increases — Nevada and Idaho grew at about 2.1 percent, followed by Utah at 1.9 percent, Arizona at 1.7 percent and Florida at 1.5 percent.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Joining Mississippi on the loss list was New York, Illinois, West Virginia, Louisiana, Hawaii, Alaska, Connecticut and Wyoming.

As the Legislature prepares to tackle another session, lawmakers would be wise to explore what can be done to make Mississippi more attractive — both to those inside and outside the state.

Already, lawmakers have tried to find a way to keep more college graduates home. In 2018,  a bill that passed the House would have provided tax breaks to people who earn bachelor’s or professional degrees.

“We’re hoping this will entice some of our best and brightest to stay here,” Republican Rep. Trey Lamar of Senatobia, one of the bill’s authors, said last year.

The bill was well-intentioned but college grads are not looking for a short-term tax break when choosing where they will live. They are looking for opportunities — both personally and professionally. Mississippi needs to work on providing more of both.

Most of us know of college grads who have sought employment outside of Mississippi for one reason only — the opportunities are better elsewhere, or at least that’s the perception.

Changing this will take time, energy and the input of more than just lawmakers, but we encourage the Legislature to explore ways to make the state more attractive.