Makinizi Hoover
Strategic Advocacy Manager, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Stephanie Ferguson
Director, Global Employment Policy & Special Initiatives, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Isabella Lucy
Graphic Designer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Published

September 15, 2023

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The state of Mississippi has a favorable landscape for businesses and individuals, with a diverse economy, strong labor market recovery, and a robust small business ecosystem. Educational attainment, quality of life, and cost of living factors remain promising. 

The Worker Shortage Across America

Explore the interactive map below to see the impact of the worker shortage crisis in each state.

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The Chamber’s Worker Shortage Index ratio indicates the number of available workers for every job opening. A ratio above 1.0 indicates a surplus of available workers compared to job openings.

Mississippi’s Labor Market 

Prior to the pandemic, Mississippi's labor market faced challenges. Despite having more workers hired into jobs than leaving them, the state's unemployment rate stood on par with the national average of 3.5%. Additionally, the state's labor force participation rate was relatively low at 55.9%, notably below the national rate of 63.4%. 

Mississippi's current labor market has mostly recovered and is displaying signs of continued improvement. However, while the state's labor force participation rate barely lags behind its pre-pandemic levels, it is still eight full points lower than the national average.  

Mississippi’s hiring rate continues to surpass its quit rate, and its unemployment rate is slightly lower than it was before the pandemic. These trends are particularly promising for employers, who have a surplus of 35,000 job openings compared to February 2020. On the downside, Mississippi is grappling with a workforce shortage, evident by the fact that there are only 61 available workers for every 100 open job positions in the Magnolia state. 

Mississippi’s Business Environment 

Mississippi's business environment is diverse, encompassing a rich agricultural economy, several large universities, and serving as the headquarters for a number of large companies.  

The majority of Mississippians work in trade, transportation, utilities, and government sectors, with relatively few employed in financial activities. Mississippi’s employment landscape is a result of strong automotive, shipbuilding, furniture, paper, and chemical production. The state is also a hub for aerospace innovation, with leading manufacturers in unmanned aerial systems, manned aircraft, and space technology, including NASA rocket engines and Airbus helicopters.

Mississippi boasts a thriving small business ecosystem, with 99.3% of all Mississippi businesses falling into this category. Nearly half of Mississippi's workforce works within small businesses. Within this dynamic landscape, women own 44.5% of small businesses, 31.2% are minority-owned, 1.9% are owned by Hispanics, and 8% are veteran-owned. 

Mississippi’s Educational Attainment 

Thirty percent of Mississippi’s population has obtained their high school diploma or its equivalent, surpassing the U.S. average of 26.1% in 2022. 15.2% of the population has attained a bachelor's degree, while 9.6% have secured a graduate degree, both below the national averages. 

Fortunately for employers in the state, the vast majority (77.4%) of Mississippi college freshmen are remaining in the state for their higher education, where the average in-state tuition is $8,604. Out-of-state tuition in the state is $19,402, significantly less expensive than the national average out-of-state tuition of $28,000. In total, roughly 163,000 students are enrolled in a Mississippi college for the 2022-2023 school year. These students supply a rich talent pool from which local employers can recruit talent.  

Quality of Life 

Mississippi has the lowest median household income among all states and the District of Columbia, with a median income of $48,610. Mississippi has a tax rate with three brackets that range from 0% to 5%. 

Mississippi has a tax rate with three brackets that range from 0% to 5%. Only 14% of Mississippi’s workforce are remote workers. For those commuting into an office, the average commute time is 25 minutes. The Council for Community and Economic Research measures states’ costs of living compared to the national average of 100. Mississippi boasts the nation's lowest cost of living index, with a score of 85.3. The median rent settles at $789, while the median home cost is $171,998, both falling well below the national average. Nearly 69% of the population owned their housing unit in 2021. The state experienced a negative growth rate of 0.61% from 2020 to 2022. 

Immigration 

In the U.S., immigrants tend to be of working age in comparison to native-born individuals. Consequently, they are more actively engaged in the labor force, playing a dual role as both consumers and taxpayers, contributing to help fund programs like Medicare and Social Security. 

Looking at Mississippi in particular, immigrants comprise 2.1% of the state's population, totaling 63,444 individuals. Their collective spending power amounts to $1.5 billion, while their tax contributions reach $473.8 million. 

About the authors

Makinizi Hoover

Makinizi Hoover

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Stephanie Ferguson

Stephanie Ferguson

Isabella Lucy

Isabella Lucy