State’s economy rebounding, but growth expected to slow

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Mississippi is poised to have its biggest spike in economic growth since 2008, according to the latest forecast report by the state economist. But that expected surge doesn’t mean the state’s economy will keep growing.

“The forecast shows that 2021 looks to be a rebound year,” said Corey Miller, state economist with the University Research Center. “We’re not seeing much growth beyond that. We are seeing Mississippi return to a trend of slow growth.”

Mississippi’s gross domestic product is expected to rise by 2.8% in 2021, the report says. Since the Great Recession, the state hasn’t seen annual growth of more than 1%.

“For this second quarter of 2021, our forecast has improved quite a bit,” Miller said. “A lot of that has to do with federal stimulus in the form of the American Rescue Plan and the increase of the number of people being vaccinated for COVID-19.”

The outlook report says consumer spending in the U.S. and Mississippi is expected to continue to grow as more Americans are vaccinated. The number of jobs in the state are also expected to grow by 1.8 year this year, which would be the largest annual increase since 1998.

Those additions are largely making up for losses that had been caused by the pandemic.

Mississippi’s unemployment rate was 6.3% in March, up from 6.1% the month before. The national rate for March was 6%.

“I think recovery has been rather uneven,” Miller said. “We still have quite a few people in the service industry, accommodations and food service, who are still unemployed.”

Mississippi added 3,400 jobs in March, 2,500 of which were in the professional business services sectors. That sector covers a large swath of workers and fields from law to accounting.

The overall jobs number is down 3% compared to a year ago, according to Miller.

“That’s not good, but compared to a lot of the country it’s not too bad,” Miller said.

Big industries in Mississippi, like agriculture and manufacturing, weren’t largely affected by the pandemic. Those sectors make up a bigger chunk of the Mississippi workforce than they do in other states.

Whatever gains anticipated for the year are expected to even out by the start of the new year.  The forecast report shows