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Government Now Largest Employer in Mississippi
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Government has become the largest employer in Mississippi. MPB's Paul Boger reports statistics show that both state and local government employment has grown by almost 25 percent since the early nineties.
In 1990, roughly 200 thousand Mississippians worked for state and local governments. In 2013, that number had grown to nearly 250 thousand.
State Economist Darrin Webb says the state's current employment numbers are vastly different than were twenty years ago.
"The number one employer in the state is the government." said Webb. "This is by and large local government; teachers are included in that. It used to be, back in the 90's manufacturing was the number one sector. We had NAFTA and we began losing employment. That has sort of continued on through 1994, continued to decline."
While Webb admits most of those jobs were created on the local level, House Appropriations Committee Chair Representative Herb Frierson of Poplarville believes the state should concentrate on private sector growth.
"We don't have any more state employees than we had about 10 or 12 years ago." said Frierson. "We haven't added them, but it says we need more private sector growth and job creation. We don't need to be dependent on the government."
In addition to the changes in employment numbers, Webb also said Mississippi was lagging behind other states when it came to wage growth.
Democratic Representative Bo Eaton believes the state should be using some of it's extra income to give raises to it's employees.
"The projection is very conservative." said Eaton. "I think we'll see a little bit more growth then is anticipated. With the anticipated estimate we could easily look at raises for state employees."
In all, employment has grown by 1.6 percent throughout the state; making it the largest growth since 1999.