The unemployment rate for Jackson was recorded in August 2017 at 4.6%. Previously, the rate in Jackson was at its highest in January 2010 at 9.2% and is now 4.6 percentage points lower. In February 2017, the rates were recorded at 4.1%, and have now grown by 0.5% in a span of 6 months.
In June, 100,400 Mississippians were unemployed, a rise of 2,000 from May. While the labor force fell this year, the numbers of those who reported their employment fell even faster. [1]

In Jackson, it is more of a question of which of the jobs have peaked more than which have fallen. Trade, transportation, and utilities saw a significant fall. Professional and business services followed the fall, along with construction and manufacturing. However, there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel. Education and health services saw higher payrolls in 2017. In the second place was leisure and hospitality, and in third position was financial activities and government. [2]

Jackson’s big problem is the low work force participation rate across the state. Factors contributing to this fall have a lot to do with the number of people in Jackson who are disabled. [3]

Managerial jobs and healthcare in demand

The average hourly wage stands at $20.10 in the Jackson area, up against a national average of $23.86. [4] Topping the wage earnings are managerial and healthcare positions, with a hourly wage of $42.34 and $30.14 respectively. Accountants and auditors are at $26.01, which is $10 lesser than the national wage.

Truck and tractor drivers make up the fourth most earnings with $20.73, almost on par with the national wage. On the lower side are customer service representatives, who make $16.18; retail salespersons at $12.68; and psychiatric and home health aides at a dollar’s difference. Low wage and low skilled fast food workers are sitting at $8.62 per hour.

Occupation

Jackson Area (hourly wage – average)

United States (average hourly wage)

General and operations manager

$42.34

$58.70

Registered nurses

$30.14

$34.70

Accountants and auditors

$26.01

$36.89

Truck and tractor drivers

$20.73

$20.96

Customer service representatives

$16.18

$16.91

Retail salespersons

$12.68

$13.07

Home health aides

$10.95

$11.35

Psychiatric aides

$9.04

$13.83

Cooks, fast food

$8.62

$9.89

Millennials fleeing Mississippi, but Jackson is still safe

Here’s a primer on the Millennials – Those born between 1981 and 2000 rose to become the largest number of Americans and the population saw a rise of 2.6 million in the span of 6 years.

In Mississippi however, the younger population has dropped to 801,799. And no other state in the country lost more Millennials. [5]

While this narrative is common, Mississippi’s labor force has been hit severely due to this migration. A concrete 40 percent of Millennials in the country prefer to live in cities over suburbs.

But then there’s Jackson. Jackson has retained a sustainable Millennial population. The city has a population of over 100,000. But there is also an underlying concern that Millennials are likely to leave Jackson as well to states that have more an urban scene such as Tennessee, Texas, and Florida.

High rentals prices driving the labor force away?

Much of this issue of Millennials leaving could be due to rental housing becoming unaffordable in Mississippi, according to a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. [6]

In order to make rent, on average, a worker in Mississippi needs to make $14.84 per hour, or double the minimum wage (MW). Mississippi by in large may have one of the lowest two-bedroom housing rates, but residents still have to work more than the usual 40-hour work week to manage the rental prices.

To rent a one-bedroom apartment, 67 hours in a minimum wage job will be required, otherwise calculated as 1.7 full-time jobs to make rent. Jackson holds the position of being one of the most expensive areas for housing. Essentially, for a worker to afford an average apartment in Mississippi, while working at the minimum wage, needs to work 82 hours a week.

The golden triangle

Jackson is still The Magnolia State’s largest city but in light of the efforts of developer Joe Max Higgins, Jr. and   The Golden Triangle Development Link, Mississippi’s Golden Triangle region has seen a dramatic increase in jobs and economic growth in recent years. [7]

Sources

1.       http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com/story/news/local/2014/07/18/mississippi-unemployment-rate-worst-nation/12857249/

2.       https://www.bls.gov/regions/southeast/summary/blssummary_jackson_ms.pdf

3.       http://www.djournal.com/news/mississippi-economy-still-lagging-nation-economist-says/article_33ae0806-8e80-5e69-89a9-e42fd62d9e15.html

4.       https://www.bls.gov/regions/southeast/summary/blssummary_jackson_ms.pdf

5.       http://www.sunherald.com/news/local/article160319324.html

6.       http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2017/jun/16/how-affordable-housing-mississippi/

7.       https://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-mississippi-factory-jobs-joe-max-higgins/