$1.5 billion have left Jackson over past two decades

By Hunter Estes
September 3, 2019

Over $1.5 billion have left the city of Jackson and Hinds county between 1992 and 2016, mostly for Madison and Rankin counties. 

That is according to IRS tax migration data. As the old saying goes, “money talks”, and this mass movement of money leaving Jackson is a serious testament to the need for changes in the state’s core urban center.

Between September 2015 and 2016 alone, Jackson lost more than $5 million (almost ten percent) of its tax revenue. City leaders have taken to hiking taxes in order to offset the tax revenue lost from the movement of its citizens to the suburbs, yet in so doing it has made life all the more expensive for those who have stayed, further incentivizing the suburban exodus of others and exacerbating the existing problem.

Madison and Rankin counties showed large growth over the same time period, altogether expanding their wealth indices by about a combined $1.5 billion.

Around the state, Desoto county also showed a positive rate of growth, gaining over $1.34 billion almost entirely from Shelby county, Tennessee. However, this growth in some counties was offset by losses throughout the state, resulting in a net negative for Mississippi. Every county within the Delta lost wealth. Altogether well over $1 billion left the area.

While some counties have continued to grow, overall the state has lost over $100 million. This has made Mississippi the only state in the Southeast besides Louisiana to see a net wealth lost.

A similar trend accompanies with population loss, as Mississippi and Louisiana were the only states in the Southeast between 2017 and 2018 to experience declines in population.

In total, for the time period, the state gained wealth from Louisiana, Tennessee, Illinois, California, and Michigan, while it lost wealth to Texas, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina.

Two major questions arise from this data, first, what is motivating internal migration? It is clear that citizens are voting with their feet, and are showing their preference for the better fiscal management of Madison and Rankin county, among other reasons.

This movement of cash has created serious shortfalls in Jackson’s tax revenue, and rather than continue to place greater financial burdens on those who remain, the city needs to tighten the proverbial fiscal belt.

The second question is why Mississippi is seeing a net loss overall, and especially why neighboring states, including Tennessee, Arkansas, and Alabama have become more attractive options for those seeking to move into the Southeast. Mississippi ought to answer the first question before the second. There are clear reasons motivating large numbers of people to choose Desoto, Madison, and Rankin counties. These areas should be used as a model for statewide growth and policy change.

This week, Mississippi Center for Public Policy will be looking into the underlying reasons as to why Jackson is struggling, exploring the legislative and regulatory climate which encourages migration and business stagnation both within our capital city, and across the state.


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