Mississippi is doing better than most states when it comes to recovering from the economic shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Mississippi’s unemployment rate, which was the highest in the nation at 5.4 percent one year ago, is now more middle-of-the-pack at 8.7 percent. This is down from 10.5 percent in May, and better than the national average of 11.1 percent. 

Notably, the increase of just 3.3 percent over the past year is one the lowest jumps in the country. That contrasts with the state’s that were at the center of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring, including Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York. They subsequently made the most draconian moves to shut down businesses and they have seen their unemployment rates jump by 10.6 to 14.5 percent since last June. 

Mississippi’s relatively low unemployment rate is due to the fact that Mississippi is doing better than most when it comes to the state’s jobs rebound.  

February-April job losses that returned in May and June

Almost half of the jobs that were lost from February through April have returned in May and June in Mississippi. The South has been stronger than most other regions of the country, and Mississippi’s rebound of more than 49 percent is seventh best in the nation.

Neighboring Tennessee came in slightly ahead at 52 percent, placing the Volunteer State third nationally. Louisiana, which has seen a rebound of just 32.8 percent of jobs lost, is the only state in the Southeast not in the top half of the recovery. 

Still, we know the recovery hasn’t been even, and many businesses – particularly small businesses – continue to struggle. Especially when promised relief funds never show up.

“They promised us all kinds of grants and loans,” said Edward Ferrell, owner of the Little Yazoo Sports Bar and Grill in Yazoo City. “Nothing’s happened. I have not received a dime of that money. I’ve had to let good friends go who had worked for me for the last five years because I can’t afford to pay them. I can’t afford to pay the bills. I’m dipping into my savings that we were going to use to update the bar. We can’t do it now.” 

That is why the continued focus on the use of federal funds for the recovery efforts in the state should be on private sector needs, not public sector wants.