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Report: Mississippi has mid-pack economic outlook despite population loss

SLOWDOWN: Mississippi's poor economic performance might explain why 60,000 people have left the state in recent years. Photo illustration by Steve Wilson

The recently released Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index report gives Mississippi mixed grades when it comes to the state's ability to compete economically with the rest of the nation.

The good news is that the measure of the state's economic outlook — which is calculated using 15 equally-weighted policy variables that include various tax rates, regulatory burdens, debt service as a measure of tax revenue, number of state workers per 10,000 residents and labor policies — is solidly mid-pack, ranked 24th nationally. That number is down from recent years, when the state's economic outlook was named 10th best in 2013.

RANK: Mississippi's economic outlook ranks 24th, which is better than only Louisiana among neighboring states. Graphic by the American Legislative Exchange Conference

The bad news is the total ranking for state's economic performance from 2006 to 2016, as measured by gross domestic product, migration and non-farm employment. The state was ranked 44th.

According to the report, the state's GDP growth is ranked 37th among the states, while the 60,000 residents who've left the state ranks 36th. The state's employment picture has shrunk 0.4 percent during this time, putting the state near the bottom of the rankings at 46.

Mississippi had the fourth-most public employees per 10,000 residents, with only Vermont, Kansas, Alaska and Wyoming having more.

The 11th annual edition of the report was authored by two economists who advise the White House — Arthur B. Laffer and Stephen Moore — and the vice president of the American Legislative Exchange Council Center for State Fiscal Reform, Jonathan Williams. The report says that in the past five years, 30 states have significantly reduced their tax burden.

Mississippi is one of those states. In 2016, the Legislature passed and Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law a tax cut that could add up to $415 million.

The package has brought relief to individuals and businesses by eliminating the state’s corporate franchise tax over a 10-year span, erasing the state’s 3 percent income tax bracket by 2020 and allowing self-employed Mississippians to deduct up to half of their federal self-employment taxes by 2019.

The corporate franchise tax was assessed at a rate of $2.50 per $1,000 of capital or property, whichever is greater.

The top 10 states in the report in terms of economic outlook include:

  1. Utah

  2. Idaho

  3. Indiana

  4. North Dakota

  5. Arizona

  6. Florida

  7. North Carolina

  8. Wyoming

  9. South Dakota

  10. Virginia

California, New Jersey, Illinois, Vermont and New York were the bottom five states listed in the report. New York has lost 1,314,425 residents since 2007, while California has lost 928,627.

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