TATE’S CLAIM: Mississippi’s economy is growing faster today than any time in the state’s history.
FACT: The most comprehensive measure of a state’s overall economy is gross domestic product (GDP), which comes in two forms, nominal GDP and inflation-adjusted real GDP. Mississippi’s real GDP growth since the Great Recession has lagged behind our surrounding states.
From 2009-18, Mississippi’s economy grew only 2.18%. Meanwhile, surrounding states far outpace us:
- Tennessee: 22.77%
- Arkansas: 13.07%
- Alabama: 10.59%
Even worse, Mississippi’s real GDP is below its pre-recession levels. Meaning, adjusting for inflation, our economy still hasn’t recovered from the recession.
Comparatively, in the 10 years prior to the recession (1999-2008), Mississippi’s real GDP increased by 19.1%. We are hardly seeing an economy that’s growing faster than anytime in state history, as Tate likes to claim.
TATE’S CLAIM: Mississippi’s unemployment level is the lowest in the state’s history.
FACT: Mississippi’s unemployment rate is 0.5% higher today than it was one year ago. Even worse, our unemployment rate is the second highest in the nation and significantly higher than our surrounding states:
- Alabama: 3.1%
- Arkansas: 3.4%
- Tennessee: 3.5%
- Louisiana: 4.3%
TATE’S CLAIM: Mississippi has more people working today than anytime in state history.
FACT: While that may be true according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey of employer payrolls, a separate BLS survey of labor participation shows there are less people working today than in the early- to mid-2000s.
Additionally, Mississippi’s labor force participation rate of 55.6% is the second lowest in the nation and among the lowest point since 1976. Meaning, nearly half of working age Mississippians aren’t even looking for work. Even worse, it took Mississippi 10 years to make up the jobs we lost during the recession—that’s the slowest job recovery in state history, and eight years of that sluggish recovery happened under Tate’s watch.
The simple fact of the matter is Tate Reeves tries to paint a rosy picture of the economy with his tailored statistics, but, put under a microscope, Mississippi’s economy is hardly roaring.