Mississippi is on the up! Mississippi’s economic prospects have improved significantly and in terms of economic outlook our state now ranks 22nd out of all 50 US states.
According to research by ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, Mississippi’s economic prospects are now brighter than those of either Alabama or Louisiana. We are only just behind South Carolina.
ALEC’s report shows that the kind of free market reforms the Mississippi Center for Public Policy has helped champion in recent years work. They have helped lift Mississippi up five places in the rankings over the past year, and have directly improved Mississippi’s economic prospects.
This follows three significant free market reforms we have seen in our state in the past few years.
First and most obviously, we cut the state income tax. The Mississippi Tax Freedom Act 2022 was not only a massive tax break for hundreds of thousands of Mississippians. It means that we are moving to a flat 4 percent rate. The report clearly shows that this move has significantly improved the outlook for our state.
Second, Mississippi adopted a universal occupational licensing law. This sounds very technocratic, but the effect of this is straightforward. It removes a lot of red tape in the labor market, making it easier for outsiders to move to our state and get certified here if they have been approved elsewhere.
Even more important in the longer term, enabling outsiders to get more easily certified creates pressure within Mississippi to eliminate unnecessarily onerous regulation that prevents Mississippians from being certified. Already there has been discussion about eliminating a number of boards that frankly do little beyond restricting the number of people who can earn a living in a particular area of employment.
It is probably too early for the effect of this to show up in any data, but the cumulative effect over time could be profound.
Third, Mississippi has gradually reduced the percentage of the workforce on the public payroll. Historically our state has tended to have a lot of people working for the government. There are still, according to ALEC’s report, 606 public employees per 10,000 people in our state, but the numbers are starting to come down.
Why is this important for growth? If too many people work for the government, it takes talent away from the private sector, making it harder for businesses to find the right people. Working in the private sector often means that people are more productive and innovative than they would be working in a big government bureaucracy.
Mississippi, the report suggests, is part of a Southern success story. All the southern US states, with the exception of Louisiana, are in the top half of the country in terms of economic outlook.
At the bottom of the league table in terms of economic outlook at California (45th), Illinois (46th) and New York (50th).
This is clear evidence that economic momentum in America is shifting from the historic hubs in the Northeast, mid-west and west coast to the South.
The southern US is a success story – and thanks to free-market reforms, Mississippi is becoming part of this southern success story.
Douglas Carswell is the President & CEO of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy.