Q: What is the job outlook for Mississippi?
A: The recovery after this recession, similar to the recovery after the 2000 recession, will be slow. We will still see some growth – or at least stability – in sectors like education, government and health services, but low-wage, low-skill jobs are disappearing. Education is becoming more and more important as it relates to job opportunities across the country so we need to make sure that we are providing opportunities for everyone to graduate from high school and pursue higher degrees, go to community college or receive the job skills training that they need to be successful.
Q: What is the outlook for counties that are really struggling? A: Educational opportunities and infrastructure are two of the most important assets an area that is trying to attract business can possess. In rural counties that have no established quality work force and no infrastructure to help industries be successful, it is more difficult to build an economic base. Rural counties need to concentrate efforts in these areas to increase their prospects at economic success.
Q: What are the short-term and long-term outlooks for Northeast Mississippi, especially with the furniture industry and Toyota?
A: Northeast Mississippi is doing much better than some other areas of the state and country. When housing starts coming back, although there will still be competition overseas, we will see some revival of the domestic furniture industry. Toyota located in Northeast Mississippi because the region has a work force that is quality and abundant. I have a lot of optimism about Northeast Mississippi because the region has what it takes – good schools, infrastructure, a great quality of life and a capable work force – for economic success.