Policy Snapshots: Mississippi's Economy & Pirate Lawyers

By Mississippi Center for Public Policy
March 10, 2017

Mississippi's top employer is government
Legislative briefing by State Economist provides overview of Mississippi jobs, economy


Nearly 250,000 Mississippians work in government - the largest employment sector in the state. The next largest sectors are manufacturing, retail, hospitality, and health care employing between 125,000 and 150,000 each.

Those facts and more come from the latest legislative briefing by the Mississippi State Economist.

Other details: 

  • The State Economist expects no significant change in Mississippi's economy in the short-term.
  • Mississippi's real gross domestic product in 2015 was below the 2008 level.
  • Mississippi's annual average unemployment rate for 2016 was 5.7%. The "real" unemployment rate was 10.9%. The "real" unemployment rate adds discouraged and other marginally attached workers and those working part time for economic reasons.
  • Mississippi has - at 56.0% - the second lowest workforce participation rate nationwide (only West Virginia is lower). The report cites Census data to note that 10% of the working age population in Mississippi is disabled and not in the work force. The national rate is 6%.
  • Mississippi has the lowest median household income in the country at $39,665. (Median household income is the level of income at which 50% of the households are above and 50% of the households are below this level.) The median household income in the United States is $53,889. Adjusted for the cost of living, Mississippi's median household income is $45,750 - still the lowest.
  • Only West Virginia and New Mexico are more dependent on the government than Mississippi. 40.6% of income in Mississippi comes from the government (26.3 percent from transfer payments; 14.4% from earnings).

Source: Mississippi University Research Center 

Five charts explain Mississippi's "budget crisis"
Spending, debt, entitlements all increasing


You have heard a lot about Mississippi "budget cuts" but it might surprise you to know spending has increased every year for the past five years.

A recent article by Steve Wilson provides five charts showing: 

  • Mississippi general funding spending has increased every fiscal year for the last five years.
  • Revenue projections have been much more optimistic than actual revenue collections.
  • Medicaid outlays from Mississippi's general fund have increased 362 percent from 2012 to 2017.
  • Education spending has increased every year since 2013.
  • The legislature has added $1.3 billion in bond debt since 2006, an increase of 41.8 percent.
Religious liberty is good for the economy
Cato Journal article cites four historic lessons showing economic prosperity follows religious liberty


Religious liberty is good for the economy, so says a new Cato Journal article by professors Anthony Gill and John M. Owen IV. The authors share four lessons from history that lead to greater economic prosperity across cultures which embrace religious tolerance.

  • Religious Freedom Promotes Diversity, Security, and Prosperity
  • Religious Freedom Attracts Entrepreneurs Who Foster Economic Growth
  • Religious Freedom Fosters a Commercial Society
  • Religious Freedom Tends to Spread to Neighbors

The authors write, "The idea that individuals holding different beliefs should be tolerated in society, and the incentive of these individuals to promote institutions that allow them to organize and worship freely, contribute greatly to an environment that promotes a wide variety of civil liberties that concurrently facilitate a number of secular relationships, which in turn promote greater interaction (trade) among people. In short, religious liberty is a catalyst for the freedoms that constitute democratic civil society and promote prosperity over the long haul."

Source: Cato Institute

Regulation through litigation
New report suggests state attorneys general make policy through litigation that benefit their political donors


"A little understood revolution in American law is taking place- regulation by litigation, which places national lawmaking into the hands of powerful coalitions of state attorneys general (AGs) who have no lawmaking power," reports the Competitive Enterprise Institute about a new paper "Pirates at the Parchment Gates - How State Attorneys General Violate Our Constitution and Shower Billions on Trial Lawyers."

The paper notes the contingency fee partnership between private law firms and state AGs raises three constitutional concerns:

  • 1. Contingency fee financing of lawsuits constitutes a constitutionally prohibited attempt to do an end-run around the appropriations process.
  • 2. Both federal and state constitutions require all receipts of money or services be legislatively authorized and subject to legislative accountability.
  • 3. No private party - including law firms - should ever be given any role in a government investigation or prosecution when they have a direct, personal financial stake in the outcome.


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