Mississippi successes stories

By Douglas Carswell
June 5, 2023

Far too often we only hear bad things about Mississippi. Many media organizations seem to relish any chance they get to put our state down.

Mississippi is, I believe, getting a lot of big things right – and improved public policy is starting to generate some successes.

Here are four recent trends impacting our state that show we are heading in the right direction on some important policy areas.

1. More Mississippi kids are now learning to read properly:

For years, Mississippi was ranked bottom of the class for education. Not anymore.

Mississippi has seen a significant improvement in literacy standards, following an insistence on the use of phonics and testing. The National Assessment of Education Progress test results show that over the past decade, Mississippi has moved from near the bottom to the middle for most exams.

2. Thanks to improved policing, Jackson’s homicide rate appears to be falling fast:

At the end of this month, we will be halfway through 2023. So far, it seems that there has been a significant decline in the murder rate.

In 2021, Jackson had one of the highest homicide rates in America, with 160 murders - making our state capital twice as deadly in per capita terms as Atlanta. In 2022 things were not that much better, with 138 people killed.

As of writing this, we have had 41 homicides in the city so far this year – still tragically high. But the number is significantly lower than at this stage last year, or the year before. In fact, if – and it is a big if – the trend we saw in the first five months of 2023 continues, we could be on course to have the lowest homicide rate in the city since 2017. It seems that changes in the way that we police our state capital are working. Well done to all those that are helping make that happen!

3. Unemployment in our state has never been lower:

Unemployment in Mississippi is lower today than ever, with fewer than 42,000 people out of work. A decade ago, there were well over 100,000 Mississippians out of work.

There are a myriad of reasons why unemployment is lower. Some might emphasize how lower income tax encourages more people to earn an income. Others might point to labor market deregulation, which makes it easier for people to get occupational licenses. Whatever the reasons, this is great news for our state.

4. Our state’s personal tax burden is falling:

According to the Tax Foundation, Mississippi now has one of the lower per-person tax burdens in America. There are only 15 states across the country where people pay less personal tax than we do. Our state’s top marginal rate of tax is down to 5 percent as of January this year. Compare that to California’s 13 percent or New York’s 11 percent.

To me, it seems that many opinion formers in our state seem embarrassed about Mississippi. Others seem to want to signal their supposed superiority with relentless condescension. As someone that has chosen to make my home in Mississippi, I believe we need to stop feeling defensive about our state.

Mississippi is a great place to live. And with record low unemployment, rising literacy rates, falling taxes and signs that we might at last be getting a grip on crime in Jackson, it is getting even better. The Mississippi Center for Public Policy exists to make sure that happens.


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