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Mississippi’s Economist: State Back in Recession

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 17 Sep 2012 06:52pm | comments
State economist derrin webb.

The state of Mississippi has slid back into recession. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that's what the Mississippi's economist is telling a group of leading state budget writers.

The 14-member Joint Legislative Budget committee is meeting all week in Jackson to draft a recommended state budget for fiscal year 2014.

Speaking to the committee yesterday, State Economist Derrin Webb says Mississippi probably slipped into recession in April of this year and....because of weak jobs numbers and other factors.....he expects it to remain there in the 3rd quarter, which ends this month.

"When you look at where we are. We currently have the lowest of employment that we have had since the depth of the recession. We hit a low point in October of 2009. We have the same number of people employed right now. This data is subject to revision so it may be revised upward but based on the data we have now, that is the story," Webb said.

Webb says Mississippi's economy continues to struggle because of low levels of education, poor health and a high number of births outside marriage.

Committee Member Senator Willie Simmons of Cleveland says if the state is in recession, poorer areas like the delta are probably facing a depression.

"I assumed that we were moving right along with the rest of the nation. But to hear him say we have slipped back into a recession really concerns me. And especially from an area like I live in the Mississippi Delta where unemployment is much higher than it is in the rest of the state. So if the state is in a recession, than we have some serious, serious problems," Simmons said.

The news is a gloomy start to the weeklong series of budget presentations by state agency heads.

House Speaker Phillip Gunn of Clinton says it is another sign that budgets will be tight once again.

"We just view it as realistic. We have to take a realistic approach to our budgeting. We have known for quite some time that the economy is flat. It continues to remain flat. And there is no quick recover in sight," Gunn said.

State Economist Derrin Webb says the state will not return to pre-recession employment until 2018.

Still, despite slipping back into recession, corporate and individual income taxes are up and will likely lead to increased state revenue.

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State economist derrin webb.


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