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Mississippi’s Economy Still Years From Pre-Recession Levels

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 03 Dec 2010 08:50am | comments
Kibb's Supermarket in Downtown Crystal Springs has been open for more than two decades.

Mississippi's economy continues its painfully slow climb out of the recession. But even a quick recovery might be too late for many in Mississippi. MPB's Jeffrey Hess visits a rural town to find out how much longer people can wait.

In Copiah County, the unemployment rate is in double digits, and this southwest Mississippi community is not likely to see much improvement.

Senior State Economist Marianne Hill predicates minimal growth next year.

"We won't be back to where, employment wise, where we were before the recession until 2015. And even then certain sectors like construction and manufacturing with still not have achieved their pre-recession employment levels," Hill said.

Hill thinks businesses are waiting for a guarantee of success before taking any more risks, but finds those guarantees or a sudden rapid improvement in the economy extremely unlikely.

That is hard news for the more the thousands people out of work in Mississippi.

The rural Crystal Springs Community has suffered like other towns in this recession. Hard times have driven lots of of people to Jason Smith, who manages Tower Loans.

"They come here for various reasons, from needing to keep their lights on, to needing to keep their house. It varies from day to day it just depends on the day of the week really," Smith said.

Across the street from Tower Loans is Kib's supermarket.

The owner, Iyavu Pillai who the locals call Mr. P, has been running the downtown grocery store for 25 years but on Friday he was helping bag groceries. He has watched his profit margin shrink every year and worries that another slow year could force him to shut down.

"If that's what it comes to...well, if you don't pay the bills somebody else is going to shut me down. So before they shut me down, I better shut it down myself," Pillai said.

He said he would only close up as a last resort after talking proudly about his role in helping feed his neighbors. However, many businesses were not as fortunate, and large stretches of of the downtown store fronts remain unoccupied.

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Kibb's Supermarket in Downtown Crystal Springs has been open for more than two decades.


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