BILL CRAWFORD: Bryant turns manufacturing trend around

The peak in manufacturing jobs over the past 20 years in Mississippi occurred during the third year of Gov. Kirk Fordice’s administration. In 1994, jobs in manufacturing industries averaged 261,000, according to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.

Since then, average annual jobs in manufacturing have trended down, with two rare exceptions.

In 1998, the third year of Fordice’s second term, average jobs in manufacturing ticked up from 241,800 to 245,500. Then, in 2004, the first year of Gov. Haley Barbour’s administration, average jobs in manufacturing increased from 179,000 to 179,600.

Gov. Phil Bryant and his economic development team are on the verge of achieving another rare uptick in manufacturing jobs. Last year, jobs in manufacturing averaged the same as the prior year, 135,200. Not losing manufacturing jobs was a good accomplishment.

Even better is recent manufacturing job growth. Through June, average jobs in manufacturing totaled 136,300, up a total of 1,100.

“Economic development is the centerpiece of what we do,” Bryant told a Neshoba County Fair audience. “It is the sun in our political universe. And everything else rotates around it: education, health care, transportation. We’ve got to have that growing dynamic economy, and we do.”

Bryant said he has announced the creation of more than 7,200 new jobs and more than $1.1 billion in private sector investment. Many of those jobs are in Mississippi’s growing automotive sector. The Yokohama Tire Company project in West Point will bring 500 jobs with the potential for 2,000. The Nissan Motor Company expansion in Canton will add 800 jobs.

“We are producing results, and our economy has reached $100 billion for the first time in the state’s history,” Bryant told fairgoers. “This growth and recognitions the state has recently received are a result of the hard work that is taking place to move the state forward economically.”

The American Legislative Exchange Council placed Mississippi among the top 10 states for overall economic outlook for 2013, and the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity named Mississippi fifth in the nation for business startup activity in 2012. Area Development Magazine, an economic development publication, awarded Mississippi a second consecutive Silver Shovel Award for strong economic development performance.

Manufacturing jobs are important because they are a higher paying component of Mississippi’s “base economy.” Base economy components are those that bring money into the state. They consist of industries that produce exports (manufacturing, agriculture, technology), businesses that attract spending by out-of-state people (tourism, retirement, gaming, entertainment, recreation), and federal government transfer payments.

With production jobs in decline, Mississippi became more dependent on attracting out-of-state spending and transfer payments. Now, with transfer payments facing cuts, Mississippi needs its other base economy sectors to grow, especially manufacturing.

Bryant and his team are turning trends in the right direction.

Bill Crawford ( is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.

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  • the_rocket

    How is Philbert responsible for this? All we’re seeing is the final fruition of Haley Barbour’s 8 years of selling the state out to any big bussiness that was willing to pay.

    The only thing Reverend Bryant can claim credit for is making MS an even bigger laughing stock for the whole nation.

  • 1941641

    Fundie Man’s friends are trying desperately to award him some little tad of credit for his attempts to govern the state in hopes of securing him a second term,which, is in no way what the people of Mississippi really deserve!

  • Thile

    What trends are Phil “turning around?” Mississippi was the first state in the country to bribe–er, offer incentives–corporations to move here. The last 3 governors perfected it and Philbert is just continuing the practice. I guess Phil is turning around the trend by pretty putting taxpayers on the hook for the new Yokohama plant in West Point. I do find it interesting that Mr. Crawford omits Governor Musgrove’s gains with Nissan, which opened in 2003. And before you screech “beef plant,” which governor is responsible for the Kemper County coal plant boondoggle? Or WorldCom in Clinton?

  • countrydawg

    Giving $20M to a construction company building a mail in Pearl under the guise of some asinine “cultural retail” tax break is trendy, too. Not sure why the Mall at Barnes Crossing hasn’t tried to get on that gravy train.

    The reality is this: Phil and his cronies are doing nothing special. He’s just continuing a practice that MS governors have done for the past 20 years. If the Guv and the rest of the clown car in Jackson truly wanted to be trendsetters, they’d invest in education–not attempt to kill off an entire school system to elevate one over the other. Look at our junior colleges: here’s where people go to get training for all those high-paying manufacturing jobs; if those colleges were more affordable, more in-state folks would attend. And a more skilled workforce means the state wouldn’t have to bribe corporations to set up shop or stay here.

  • Kathy Wells

    I think he is doing a great job! Compare with the rest of the nation unless all of you live under a rock?…Having a job these days, keeping one, or better yet having a new business start up is a great success. Thanks to Bill Clinton opening gates to move corporations to other countries, in which this all started…all of our Gov. since have done pretty well. Why don`t you move out of MS and see if its better somewhere else?

    • DownGoesBrown

      56 of 82 counties have unemployment above 10%. The statewide unemployment rate has been at 9% since Phil took over. Mississippi has the 3rd-highest unemployment rate in the country. The added jobs are great, but this is ain’t the time for high fives or bragging.

      Why should someone have to move because they don’t agree with the state’s current leadership? Should we, as residents and taxpayers, not demand better and hold that leadership accountable?

      • Kathy Wells

        in this day & time even educated people are having a hard time finding a job, and for any state to have new manufacturing is very good. During Clinton adm is when manufacturing started to leave the country. People from other states are moving here because of the lower cost of living and more opportunity for jobs. So in my comment about leaving here and go somewhere else…well that`s what others have done to come to our state. You want bigger change and better growth, then make sure you vote in the next two elections for people that know how to strengthen our country not destroy it! Leadership begins at the top.

  • guest

    The hard truth is manufacturing in Mississippi are now where near where they should be since our current trade polices put Mississippi workers in direct competition with third world workers. Gov. Bryant is just taking the credit because we have had a small uptick in our economy. If the trend went the other way he would just try to blame Obama.

    The real problem is our dysfunctional Congress that has been placed in constant gridlock because of some blind ideology.

  • 1941641

    Well, I got cut off from completing my original comment. It basically said Mississippi’s right-to- work laws were detrimental to the economic well-being of working-class people. And a boon to the 1%. AKA, Republican Conservatism. The (GOP), Gods Obnoxious People!

  • 1941641

    If Obama was a white republican, he would have gotten his share of the praise in this article for an improved economy. But, of course, that’s not in the cards in the Red Mississippi State. However, politics is evolving in Mississippi and I, for one, believe a huge change is on the horizon!

  • guest

    What I find offensive about this article is the propaganda style journalism Bill Crawford is trying to feed us. In what rational world would someone sing praises about a 1,100 job increase in a business sector that is down over 40,000 from 10 years ago? At the same time he is asking us to forget the double digit increase in employee productivity while wages stagnate and decrease. Our economy may have reached 100 billion for the first time in our state’s history but it certainly is not “trickling down” in the form of wages and benefits for the employees in the manufacturing sector. New manufacturing is coming to Mississippi for the overboard tax breaks and low wage rates of the under educated south.

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Does anyone think we need to follow the next ten years like we did the last?