Mississippi’s economy lags neighbors

By Steve Wilson
May 6, 2019

Mississippi’s economic growth lagged behind most of its neighbors in 2018 even though the state’s economy had its best year since 2008.

The report by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, estimated the state’s real gross domestic product grew at a rate of one percent in 2018, a big improvement from 2014, when BEA estimated the state’s GDP shrunk by 1.2 percent. 

Since then, the numbers have been small, but steadily improving, with 0.4 percent growth in 2015, 0.3 percent in 2016 and 0.5 percent in 2017. 

YearGDP growth 

Real domestic product is defined as the market value of goods and services produced by the labor and property located in a state.

That ranked the state 42nd nationally, with Alaska in last place with a GDP that shrunk by 0.3 percent. Delaware and Wyoming (0.3 percent) were next worst. Alaska was the only state whose GDP contracted in 2018.

The southeast — which includes Mississippi’s neighboring states plus Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia — averaged 2.6 percent of GDP growth. 

In the region, Mississippi was ahead of only Arkansas (0.9 percent GDP growth) and was edged slightly by Louisiana (1.1 percent).

The best growth rates regionally were Florida (3.5 percent) and Tennessee (3 percent). Washington’s economy grew at a rate of 5.7 percent, best in the nation, followed by Utah (4.3 percent), Idaho (4.1 percent) and Arizona (4 percent).

The biggest sectors contributing to Mississippi’s economic improvement were wholesale trade (0.17 percent), retail trade (0.16 percent), hunting and fishing (0.13 percent) and 0.10 percent growth for both durable and non-durable goods manufacturing.

According to the report, wholesale trade increased 9.1 percent nationally and contributed to growth in all 50 states.

In 2018, Mississippi missed the boat on information services, which the BEA says increased 8.9 percent nationally. The industry’s share of the state’s gross domestic product contracted by 0.02 percent. 

Finance and insurance was the biggest downward mover in 2018, shrinking its share of Mississippi’s GDP at a rate of 0.18 percent. Construction’s share of GDP withered at a rate of 0.04 percent.

Poor fourth quarter numbers dragged Mississippi downward, according to the BEA estimate.

In the fourth quarter of 2018, Mississippi’s GDP growth was least amongst its neighbors at 0.5 percent and ranked 47th, outpaced by Alabama (2.1 percent), Arkansas (1.5 percent), Louisiana (1.3 percent) and Tennessee (1.6 percent).

Texas, which had its GDP grow at a rate of 3.3 percent in 2018, recorded the nation’s best growth in the fourth quarter of 2018 with 6.6 percent. 


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