Sunday, April 28, 2019

Bill Crawford: Prosperity Indicators Not So Good

Mississippi politicians running for re-election or higher office are out, about, and on social media touting how good things are and how they helped make things that way.

Well, some things are good, but some are far from good. One is population growth, rather, lack thereof.

As Jack Schultz noted in his best seller Boomtown USA, population growth is one the best indicators of an area's prosperity. People, especially young people, gravitate to booming economies with good quality of life.

So, when you talk to your favorite politicians, ask them to explain why all those good things happening in Mississippi are not resulting in population growth.

Here's some background.

The Census Bureau recently released data on county population changes. Based on this, Business Insider published the top ten fastest-growing counties in America and the top ten fastest-shrinking counties in America. Guess which list included Mississippi counties?

Texas, Florida, North Carolina and North Dakota had all the fastest-growing counties.

Mississippi had two of the fastest-shrinking counties, Washington and Coahoma. Louisiana also had two. Other states on the list were Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri.

In fact, most Mississippi counties are shrinking in population.

From 2010 to 2018, the Census Bureau data showed 63 of Mississippi's 82 counties lost population. Fourteen showed measurable growth while five showed no change.

Nine counties showed double-digit percentage population losses – Washington, Leflore, Coahoma, Sunflower, Jefferson Davis, Quitman, Humphreys, Wilkinson, and Sharkey, all Delta counties except Jefferson Davis and Wilkinson.

Five counties showed double-digit growth – Lafayette, DeSoto, Madison, Lamar, and Harrison, all urban except Lafayette (home to the University of Mississippi).

Of note, seven of our 17 urban (metropolitan area) counties showed growth but only seven of our 65 rural counties showed growth. Uh, most of our politicians represent rural areas.

Then there's this.

"Counties Where the American Dream Is Dead," headlines a story in USA Today that lists 50 such counties – 13 of them in Mississippi: Coahoma, Humphreys, Tunica, Claiborne, Leflore, Hinds, Tallahatchie, Sunflower, Bolivar, Oktibbeha, Washington, Grenada, and Quitman. (All lost population except Oktibbeha, home to Mississippi State University.)

The story says the opportunity to achieve the American Dream is virtually dead for young people living in these counties.

The results come from a 24/7 Wall St. review of data published by The Equality of Opportunity Project, tax returns from 1996 to 2012, and U.S. Census data.

The Equality of Opportunity Project, part of a Harvard University program, looked at the likelihood of 26-year-olds achieving upward income mobility on a county by county basis. The project researchers found little hope and low probability for young people raised in low-income counties to earn more as adults than the average annual income for the bottom quartile of earners nationally. Every year spent in such counties decreased their opportunities for success.

Declining population, particularly in rural counties, and declining hopes for many young people are not good things or indicators of prosperity.

You probably won't hear much about this from incumbent politicians running for re-election or higher office.

Crawford is a syndicate columnist from Meridian.

39 comments:

Cynical Sam said...

Hinds (Hines) County is fixin' to take off any second. This can be credited to the radical mayor who has visions (but mostly of grandeur). Once he buries the citizens (few taxpayers) in debt with bonds, bonds, and more bonds, Jackson will be the Wall Street of the South, and then maybe then accurate water bills will be tendered, along with those pot holes that the USPS has generously assigned zip codes.

Anonymous said...

Cynical, if you look in depth at economic history, you will see the rise and fall of cities is a predictable phenomenon. The causes of the failures and successes are consistent.

That is certainly true of the States listed as growing. Look at the basis of the economies for North Dakota and North Carolina. North Dakota is no longer dependent on their old economy but has benefitted from oil and gas ( this is the fracking state). North Carolina lost textiles and tobacco is no longer king. But, with the help of the universities working together with the legislature to create the Research Triangle ( it didn't succeed overnight) and attracting banking to Charlotte and having rural areas change their focus away from tobacco, the population jumped .

It would have behooved us long ago to have studied economic history and not continued to romantically base our decision making on supporting an rural economy that was never going to be sustainable. Nor was it realistic to think legalizing gambling ( especially the way we went about it to appease the evangelicals) would ever draw many from out of state.


Our venture capital fiascos are the result of never understanding what is or isn't a worthwhile venture and that we don't live in an economic vacuum. What is happening in the rest of the economy here and abroad has to be considered. The information received has to be objectively examined.

World Com shouldn't have failed. It failed because Mr. Ebbers thought his " instincts" were better than all the business expertise available to him. He thought he could do as he'd always done with no clue about what he didn't know and understand though others tried to tell him.

More importantly, we should have studied how other States managed to turn things around. It did not happen over night but it did depend on the citizens pulling together to support common goals.

If the naysayers and know nothing critics would shut up and our legislature would put Mississippi first and do their job instead of putting themselves and their popularity first, we might could turn things around as well.

Anonymous said...

Mississippi’s population could be cut in half and the State still would maintain the size of its bloated legislature. At some point the shrinkage will turn itself around. Someone will look at this for a money making opportunity and bring in some economic growth opportunities.

Anonymous said...

Parts of this article are dead on. People do gravitate to regions with booming economies. But not counties. People choose a county for quality of life, safety, schools, etc.

People come and go from Mississippi and the metro area for economic reasons. They choose neighborhoods and individual towns for different reasons.

But net-net, yes, Mississippi is falling off the map of relevance.

Anonymous said...

Well, he lost me when he suggested there is something wrong with Florida's economy based on some list. Has he been to Florida latest? Absolutely booming.

Anonymous said...

The three counties on the coast should secede, or petition to merge with an adjoining state. They are the only thing propping this state's economy up.

Desoto is doing well, but its just a bedroom community, much like Rankin.

Anonymous said...

Mississippi's leadership model has not changed since before the civil war. The focus is, and has been, maintaining the status quo. In a competitive national economy you stand still and you fall further behind. Mississippi's majority population wants things to remain the same, so this is the result. If you want to be a part of forward movement, LEAVE! This is not new, it is historic and systematic. Young people are simply being observant. LEAVE!

Kingfish said...

Truth is, we love our government in this state.

2-chamber legislature when only one house is needed. Over 140 school district. 82 counties. Everything needs to be elected such as from Insurance Commissioner to Treasurer to Election Commissioners to even Surveyors.

Anonymous said...

Counties losing population? Run by Democrats. Expectations that Mississippi is going to, or should, grow like other states are faulty from the outset. Jim Hood won't make it better, he'll make it worse.

Anonymous said...

The exdous from the Delta has more to do with automation and computers than anything else. As jobs were eliminated folks simply moved away. Just as refugees flock to our southern border seeking a better life people are leaving Mississippi for the same reasons.

Rod Knox said...

Does anyone here still need a link to substantiate that many young people are leaving as quickly as they get an education.... Just checking.

Anonymous said...

Young people want to live in urban areas. Our only urban area is Jackson and it does not attract young people for a number of reasons. Fixing Jackson is the key to fixing Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Mississippi should increase the size of the state senate and state house of representatives to provide better representation for our people. And, while we are at it, why not create more non teaching positions in the "public education" arena. I would start a committee beginning with the Mayor of Jacktown (I can't pronounce or spell his name). I see nothing but good times ahead for the progressive state of Mississippi!

Anonymous said...

Young people want to live in urban areas. Our only urban area is Jackson and it does not attract young people for a number of reasons. Fixing Jackson is the key to fixing Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

Amen, 7:09, amen

Anonymous said...

Take away the Memphis burbs, the Capital burbs, Hattiesburg, and the Coast, the state is not doing pretty miserably. Only way folks prosper in other areas- Meridian, Vicksburg, the Delta, wherever, is the company Grandpa started is doing well.

Also, the southwest river counties- Wilkinson, Jefferson, Adams, Claiborne- are pretty much identical to the Delta culturally and economically. Same challenges, same reliance on agrarian economy (crops versus trees). Not instructive to separate them out really. Distinction without a difference, the Southwest counties have some hills, the Delta does not. If anything, the only real difference is the Southwest counties have fewer extravagantly affluent white landowners. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I like hunting with them.

Anonymous said...

Edit: above should say “is” doing pretty miserably. Not “is not”. As in, most every where else is doing poorly.

Anonymous said...

The only hope for real change in Mississippi is natural disaster. Or maybe a severe man-made calamity, the major kind. The people of Mississippi are not equipped to change things and with the ongoing talent drain it will only get worse. A disaster might wipe the slate clean and deliver a new start. The bad part is the death toll. It would be real bad, but things could change after that.

Anonymous said...

The only people leaving are the Milllenials -- 35,000, the population of Tupelo, over the past 6 years.

We don't need those younger people.

Oh wait . . .

Anonymous said...

Young people leave for decent paying jobs first, second and third. They want safety, nice neighborhoods and good schools for their young children. They want an opportunity to advance their careers. The need to be in an "urban area" falls farther down the list. The idea that Jackson must become some sort of urban Shangri-La in order to keep our young people is absolute folly. The creative claptrap has been debunked in city after city across the country. Go right ahead and fix Jackson but don't expect the rest of the people in Mississippi to pay for it.

Anonymous said...

As the father of 20 something years old sons I can tell you they and their friends don't want to live in the suburbs. One lives in Foundren and the other lives in the heart of downtown Baton Rouge raising his daughter.

Anonymous said...

Whoever (above) said Desoto is a bedroom community is talkin' out of his watch-pocket. If you've been in that county at all in the past fifteen years, you've seen hundreds of new neighborhoods with roads chock full of local businesses, factories, office buildings, churches, education centers, restaurants, shopping centers and JOBS. I reckon that poster thinks everybody up there drives in to Memphis every morning to work. Could not be further from the truth.

Rod Knox said...

Young educated Mississippians have the luxury of traveling and seeing and enjoying the country and some the world outside of this pit of corruption where old money has often vetoed new industry and business. Fifty years ago a well placed man in Tupelo told me that many investors had been discouraged from moving into north Mississippi by old money families who feared that too much opportunity would result in increased wages at their old established firms. The old money doesn't want progress that forces them to change. For those old enough to know who Miss Nelle was most of the legends about her are based on facts, usually somewhat embellished of course. I understand that her family pays $1/year rent to the city of Tupelo for a manufacturing plant and I doubt if anyone who actually WORKS there makes over $30k. How long can the old money keep corrupt politicians in power to protect their fiefdoms?

Anonymous said...

I reckon that poster thinks everybody up there drives in to Memphis every morning to work.

Just as the Jacktown ostriches believe the entire metro drives into downtown Jackson and thus should help shoulder the burden.

Anonymous said...

Ole Rod is talking out his ass again this morning. He thinks manufacturing (smokestack factories as he still viewws them) still pays less than $15 an hour in Mississippi. Employees who may or may not have completed high school and began a career twenty years ago in an assembly or machine operator job with almost zero skills, are doing well to make $40,000 to $56,000 right now all over Mississippi. Rod would also be surprised to learn of the number of these corporate locations who have 401k plans PLUS a pension plan at retirement. These places employ a lot of really quiet, nice people who retire with thirty-plus years making Rod Knocker's life a bit easier.

Anonymous said...

california has a population of 40 million and a legislature of 127 members. mississippi has a population of 3 million and a legislature of 172 members. can you say "over-represented"? government is the leading growth industry in this state. add to that the millions of administrative agencies created by the legislature. administrative agencies, like the BS dept of marine resources are created so politicians can hand out do nothing government job to their cronies in return for political payback later on. the dept of marine resources was created to administer to all of our 35 mile coastline. same thing game and fish was already doing. and on top of that they put dr bill walker ,a world class con artist , film-flam artist, as director. 5 years later he has manages to steal about a millon$ from the taxpayer. i could go on and on with this type of corruption . TELL ME, all you brilliant social engineers, when was the last time the size of government was scaled back rather that increased?? im waiting. and the irony of all the before mentioned is that all this has been brought to you by your precious MS republican party. the party of " limited government".

Anonymous said...

april 28 @9:18....... mississippi needs a natural disaster to wipe the slate clean? we have already had one. it was called katrina. august 2005. does that ring a bell? my god , under what bridge do people like you live? no wonder this state is last in everything.


Anonymous said...

im waiting. and the irony of all the before mentioned is that all this has been brought to you by your precious MS republican party. the party of " limited government".

Keep flaunting your ignorance. It is amusing.

Anonymous said...

This isn't a partisan issue; it's a leadership issue.

No candidate in either party is willing to tell the truth: Large parts of Mississippi can't be saved.

There is no economic future for small towns in the Delta or other rural areas. We need statewide leaders who are willing to say, flatly:

"If you elect me, I will pour all of our economic resources into 12-18 countries, to make them attractive places to live, go to school, and start a business."

"To the extent legally possibly, I will not waste good money trying to keep dying counties and towns on life support. If you want to prosper, part of that is on you. Move to Madison, DeSoto, Oxford, the Golden Triangle, etc. Or move to another state. Because that's where we're focusing 100% of our resources."

When you're losing a war, you have to make hard choices. Good old boys who owe lots of favors --in both parties, of all races-- are poorly suited to doing this.

Anonymous said...

It is a myth that the promise of more money is why our young people leave.

Higher wages increase the cost of living and a young person finds out quickly that they won't have a bigger house or more discretionary income unless they do extremely well.

And, that's the key our best and brightest succeed where success is difficult and not based on who your family was generations ago or whether you went to Ole Miss or MS State and joined the " right " fraternity or sorority. And, for women, it's not being patronized or judged on beauty or centuries old acceptable" women's skills". Women also realize quickly, " the mean girls " of high school don't fair well as adults elsewhere. They are not tolerated.

Until Mississippi truly values education and rewards merit and ability and never stops to consider if " the way we've always done it" is actually working, we are stuck.

Our Constitution was deliberately written to maintain the status quo that existed before the Civil War.


Anonymous said...

9:28 The Mississippi Republican party is simply the old Mississippi Democratic party, absolutely nothing more. Same people... same agenda. Limited government? Just a slogan. The only limit is WHO government is limited to. The more things change the more they stay the same.

Anonymous said...

Over 10,000 lies, can you believe it ?

Anonymous said...

to 10:10 thats not ignorance , its the truth . something pretty boy republicans like you cant handle.

Anonymous said...

10:32, that’s actually pretty brilliant. Can you name the counties? I’ll try. Harrison Hancock Jackson Forrest Lamar Hinds (I guess?) Rankin Madison Lafayette Oktibbeha, Lowndes Desoto. That’s 12. If I stretched it out, Lauderdale (Meridian), Warren (try to prop up Vicksburg?), Adams (try to prop up Natchez?), Bolivar (try to prop up Cleveland?) Leflore (try to prop up Greenwood?), Clay (West Point), and maybe Jones (Laurel)? Came up with 19 total, really can’t think of one I missed

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile - The state is financing a move of a medical business from Cleveland to Olive Branch. Place will close down in Cleveland (leaving folks, ahem, unemployed) and, with state money, will open in Olive Branch.

This may be in line with that nutty post proposed above at April 29, 2019 at 10:32 AM.

Anonymous said...

No it isn’t 7:02, Cleveland is on the list of places to invest/save.

Anonymous said...

see the post at apr 29 at 7:02pm.....'the state is financing".....not a bank is financing, not an investor is financing, not a brokerage house is financing, not an investment banker is financing, ......nothing from the private sector. " THE STATE IS FINANCING"..... that proves my point, government is the only growth industry in the 3nd world backwater of mississippi. and the 'state' is not doing it with $ they have raised, they are doing it with the billions they get from the federal government give away programs.
i would love to see all the FED-EL AID, a/k/a federal aid, yanked out of mississippi and let this place stand on its own 2 feet. people here talk about how 'proud' and ' independent' they are. BS. THEY WOULDNT LAST 2 WEEKS WITHOUT THEY FED-AL AID.

Anonymous said...

If an area lacks opportunity for its residents to support themselves or, better yet, to enhance their quality of life, to achieve more than prior generations, or even to attain greatness, then they absolutely should leave. They owe it to themselves and their progeny. Holding to a place simply because it is home can become a prison of sorts. Life is short--if you (the individual, not the government) cannot come up with an idea, product, service, or job that will make your life better where you are, then GO! Find a place that offers more. This is the history of mankind--chasing opportunity. Government handouts have served for decades to blunt this human impetus, blighting lives and regions. Strive for more.

Anonymous said...

"No it isn’t 7:02, Cleveland is on the list of places to invest/save."

Your pants are on fire. The plant in Cleveland is closing and using state money to relocate to Olive Branch. How did this get by Feel Brant's boys over at MDA? Easy...they're complicit.

Cleveland is the only town in the Delta worth saving, but, even Cleveland can't compete against the state.

https://www.nhregister.com/news/article/Drugmaker-to-close-Mississippi-plant-laying-off-13789366.php

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