Payrolls in Mississippi jumped by 3,000 in April, erasing the slow start to the year. 

The number of employees in Mississippi rose to 1,164,200, according to preliminary estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And March’s numbers were revised upward from 1,159,700 to 1,161,200. 

After posting a decline in the number of jobs over the first three months of the year, Mississippi posted a solid job growth rate of .26 percent last month. And over the past year, Mississippi has added a little more than 11,000 jobs. 

Only Tennessee, which added 5,000 jobs last month, had better job gains among neighboring states though there .16 percent growth rate was lower than Mississippi’s. Alabama added 1,100 jobs while Arkansas added 200 jobs. Louisiana lost 1,100 jobs last month. 

Construction (+300), manufacturing (+1,000), trade, transportation, and utilities (+1,500), financial activities (+200), education and health services (+100), leisure and hospitality (+100), and government (+600) all added jobs last month. Professional and business services (-600) was the only sector to see job losses last month. 

Encouraging numbers, but problems exist

While this is good news on the whole, particularly as it compares to our neighbors, and we should celebrate job growth, there are two areas of concern that should be noted.

We added 600 jobs through government. When our population and in-migration rates stay flat (or decrease) but our government jobs increase, that’s a sign of a dependence on government for economic growth. That’s not a good free-market policy and usually indicates a lack of reliance of the private sector. Mississippi already produces approximately 56% of its economic output from the public sector, putting it fourth worst in the nation for reliance on government.

Professional and Business Services dropped by 600 jobs. This is not a trend we hope to see continue. To grow our economy from the private sector, we need more entrepreneurs, start-ups, and professionals. These jobs tend to focus on creativity and serving customers in innovative ways that create meaningful and long-lasting value. Such businesses also can create more jobs, more companies, and even generate significant wealth for founders, who often turn around and invest in new companies or donate generously through charitable giving and philanthropy.

We applaud the improved job growth numbers, but we want to see improvements in these two areas so that our economy can generate more sustainable, long-term growth.