Software developers, network engineers, data scientists, web developers, and other tech workers bring unique skills that are becoming more and more critical to the modern economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, tech workers produce approximately 18 percent of the United States GDP.
Areas with these high-income tech workers stand to benefit from their incomes. More money in the economy leads to more spending, saving, and investment in a state. Many might think such technology jobs have the highest salary potential almost exclusively in big technology hubs such as Silicon Valley and New York City.
However, the data suggests otherwise. According to Visual Capitalist, Mississippi ranks among the top ten states in the country regarding the income difference between tech workers and workers in other sectors. This places tech workers as some of the most in-demand earners in the state.
While some areas may offer numerically higher tech salaries than Mississippi, their higher cost of living makes it less attractive to live in these areas. To put this in perspective, the average tech salary in Mississippi is $71,720. While California’s tech workers have an average salary of $116,820, the raw numbers themselves don’t tell the whole story. The average tech salaries in Mississippi are indeed numerically lower than in states like California that have more urban centers. But many factors may actually put Mississippi tech workers in a better financial position than their counterparts in California or New York.
Much of the salary differences are due to the higher cost of living in many states compared to Mississippi. For instance, a dollar in Mississippi has 33 percent more purchasing power than a dollar in California, based on data from the Tax Foundation. In fact, a dollar in Mississippi has more purchasing power than anywhere else in the country. This gives the state a competitive advantage as a place of residence for tech workers seeking a lower cost of living.
Furthermore, in the wake of expanded opportunities for remote work, many tech workers now have the option to earn high-paying salaries from companies based in tech hubs like Silicon Valley while avoiding the high cost of living. Workers are doing this by having their actual residence in lower-cost states.
When such workers come to Mississippi, they bring their knowledge and abilities to Mississippi. While some may continue to work remotely for out-of-state companies, evidence suggest that many also use their skills to start their own startups and create more tech jobs in the state.
Tech job listings in tech hubs like New York and San Fransico have not seen drastic increases. On the other hand, many cities with traditionally smaller tech ecosystems have increased their tech job listings as new startups come about from the Silicon Valley exodus. In the second quarter of 2021, several such cities saw tech job listing increases. This would include Richmond (68 percent increase), Salt Lake City (33 percent), San Antonio (32 percent), Cincinnati (29 percent), and others. Exceptional tech startup growth has happened in the cities of other states. So why can’t we see the same thing happen in Mississippi?
As the state continues to look for avenues to attract talent, the tech sector's future in Mississippi carries the dynamic potential for new startups and high-paying jobs to grow the economy. The state could see a real increase in tech-driven growth by enacting policies that lower taxes, promote safer streets, lower regulation, and promote prosperity. In the friendly competition among states to attract tech talent, Mississippi should rise to challenge and take these steps to make the state a more attractive place for the free market. Tech sector growth will be sure to follow.