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Second-least connected status could cost jobs in Mississippi
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Mississippi is the second-least connected state in the country, according to the website Broadband Now. As MPB's Ezra Wall reports, the Digital Divide could cost jobs in the long term.

Mississippians are less likely to be connected to the internet than residents in 48 other states. And in the future, no laptop, no iPad, and no smartphone could also mean no job - or at least no GOOD job. Ruthe Farmer is a former White House policy advisor.

"The economy of the United States is an information economy. Being able to participate in that economy is critical for the citizens of this state," said Farmer. "If Mississippi creates the talent, the companies will bring the jobs here."

But creating that talent is easier said than done in some schools. Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson's district includes much of the impoverished Mississippi Delta. Thompson says lack of technical experience is affecting Mississippi students.

"There are parts of my district in the Mississippi Delta where we can't even get internet service yet," said Thompson. "We still have schools that are not connected in our state, so our children can really not be the best that they can be when the facilities are not current."

But Farmer says the digital job terrain is an exciting frontier for those who can get their foot in the virtual door.

"The smartphones that we're walking around with. What are those, ten years old? Now we're seeing jobs pop up as virtual reality developers. Those jobs didn't exist three years ago," said Farmer. "So obviously, as the technology develops, you're going to need to learn."

People who earn less than $30,000 are among the least likely to use the internet. That number hits close to home in a state where the median household income is just over $40,000.