|12/19/2006 - Jackson, Miss.
The December issue of the Mississippi Economic Review and Outlook, published by the Center for Policy Research and Planning of the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL), is now available online. Highlights include:
- Mississippi Economic Forecast. The rebuilding of the Coast is moving into a new phase, as issues related to funding, permits, building codes, zoning, and insurance are slowly resolved. "Many creative solutions to the problem of rebuilding housing on the Coast will be on the table in 2007," says IHL Senior Economist Dr. Marianne Hill in the Economic Review and Outlook. "The possibility of establishing housing trust funds at the state or local level is one of many suggestions that will be debated," adds Dr. Hill. State revenues were up sharply in 2006, as funds for the rebuilding and rehabilitation of the coast continued to pour in. The growth of employment was not as rapid, however. By 2007, the growth of employment is forecast to exceed that of the rest of the nation. The remarkable recovery of the casino industry on the coast will be a major contributor to labor market activity over the coming months.
- National Economic Outlook. The national economy is slowing as a result of the downturn in the housing market. Consumer debt as a percentage of after-tax income is at the highest level ever measured, and only strong growth rates of exports and business investment in equipment and facilities have sustained the current economic pace. The basics of the economy remain sound; as activity in housing levels off in late 2007, the growth rate of output will pick up, and by 2008, the growth rate of gross domestic product will again be over three percent.
- Affordable Housing in Mississippi. Over 17,000 homes in Mississippi were destroyed 50 percent or more by Hurricane Katrina, with the vast majority of these in the coastal counties. While the provision of affordable housing is an urgent need, an increased level of co-ordination and co-operation is required among the public, private and nonprofit sectors. A recent RAND Corporation study, cited in the Review, provides guidelines for those involved in this effort, and presents examples of initiatives across the country that have been proven successful in increasing the supply of affordable housing.
- Mississippi Wage Gap with Nation Persists. Although wage levels have increased, Mississippi has made no progress in closing its wage gap with the rest of the country during the past decade. The gap is indicative of Mississippi's level of economic development. The wage gap differs across industries, and in some industries, including accommodation and food and real estate and rental, the average wage in the state is higher than the wage in the rest of the nation. In the manufacturing and government sectors, however, wages lag the national average by 25 percent. "Vision, co-operation, and accountability have been shown to make a difference in economic development efforts. There are models that the state can follow in its efforts to increase wage levels," said Dr. Hill.
- State Hispanic Population. Hispanics differ from the general population of the state in that they are younger (median age 26 years versus 34 years among non-Hispanics); more frequently male (58 percent versus 48 percent for non-Hispanics); and less likely to be a high school graduate (59 percent versus 73 percent for non-Hispanics). Although only 1.4 percent of the state's population was Hispanic according to the 2000 U.S. Census, that percentage is increasing.
For more information, contact Dr. Marianne Hill, senior economist, at 601-432-6376. Click here for the full text of the Mississippi Economic Review and Outlook, also available by visiting www.ihl.state.ms.us/URC.html.