Both Mississippi and Alabama Are Bringing in New Jobs, BUT They’re Different. Here’s Why.

Mississippi’s former and current governor have touted job creation as key successes during their time in office. Governor Tate Reeves constantly speaks on new jobs for all Mississippians, even addressing a crowd full of statewide officials, lawmakers, and other guests during his first State of the State Address saying, “Income must go up in our state — for every Mississippian. Better paying jobs — quality jobs —are just around the corner.”

Everyone agrees Mississippi needs more, better-paying jobs, but where are the politicians who are putting forward definitive plans to do so?

While the state of Mississippi has seen job growth in recent years, the reality is these jobs are primarily in the production and manufacturing industries. The Washington Post recently did an analysis comparing Alabama and Mississippi job growth since the Great Recession. While Mississippi relies on low-wage versions of these production jobs, Alabama has transitioned to higher-paid versions with big-time employers like Mazda Toyota Manufacturing. The two-car manufacturers announced the joint venture to be placed in Huntsville late last year and it is projected to employ 4,000 people when the plant is completed in the spring of 2021.

According to the Mississippi and Alabama Labor Departments, poultry was the largest contributor to new jobs in both states from 2016 to 2019. These jobs on average paid just $640 a week. The difference is in Alabama, poultry was closely followed by construction and contracting sectors, which paid an average of as high as $1,016 a week. In Mississippi, nothing came close to the poultry industry. Alabama recently passed an increase to its gas tax, leading to new jobs in the construction and contracting sectors across the state, while also improving their roads and bridges to attract more heavyweight businesses to set up shop, like the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing Plant.

Mississippi will never keep up with its neighboring states who are taking measures to make sure their transportation networks are able to sustain the big business every state strives to attract. Alabama recently raised its gas tax in order to properly fund repairs and maintenance to its roads and bridges. Dedication to the state’s infrastructure alongside investments in other areas to improve the state is paying off for residents in Alabama with huge returns on good-paying jobs.

A long-term, sustainable funding mechanism is the only solution to fix Mississippi’s roads and bridges. The terrible condition of our roads and bridges is prohibiting our state from bringing in potential business that would bring more better-paying jobs for all Mississippians.