Mississippi economy grew 2.4 percent in 2012

New numbers show Mississippi economy recovered from 2011 stumble to grow 2.4 percent in 2012

Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- With manufacturing on the rebound, Mississippi's economy grew by 2.4 percent in 2012, new figures show.

Gross domestic product numbers released Thursday by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis try to measure all of the economic output of each state. They look at all the money that businesses, private individuals and governments spend on goods and services. Investment and foreign trade are also included in the totals.

Mississippi's 2012 growth rate was close to the national average of 2.5 percent, and ranked 17th among the 50 states. That was a marked improvement from 2011, when Mississippi's economy shrank by 1.1 percent, one of only five states to contract.

"2012 was a better year than 2011," said state economist Darrin Webb. "We began to see some pretty significant growth in 2012 for the first time since the recession."

The BEA revised the 2011 data downward from the original reading of a 0.8 percent contraction, indicating that the economy was in worse shape that it appeared at first. Webb emphasized that the 2012 numbers are preliminary and could also change.

Mississippi's economy totaled more than $100 billion for the first time. It remained 0.7 percent of the total U.S. economy of $15.6 trillion.

Mississippi retained the lowest per-capita gross domestic product of any state, at $28,944 per person. That number is a measure of the general wealth of the economy, said BEA's Cliff Woodruff, but is not a measure of actual wages or incomes.

North Dakota's oil boom pushed it to 13.4 percent growth, the fastest in the nation, while Connecticut's economy shrank by 0.1 percent, the only state to see recession. Mississippi grew faster than the Southeastern average, and outstripped the pace of neighbors Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana. However, it trailed Tennessee's 3.3 percent growth.

Federal figures show the biggest contributor to growth in Mississippi last year came from makers of durable goods such as cars and ships. Nearly 30 percent of the state's growth came from that sector, in a year when Toyota Motor Corp. was ramping up production at its new plant in Blue Springs and Nissan Motor Co. was bouncing back from the recession in Canton.

"Manufacturing started picking up in 2012," Webb said. "I've seen that in the jobs numbers and in the hours worked."

Other large contributors to Mississippi's growth were expansions in the retail trade and finance and insurance sectors.

Only three times in the last 15 years has Mississippi's economy grown faster than the nation. Those years included 2007 and 2008, when reconstruction from Hurricane Katrina allowed Mississippi to forestall the forces that were dragging the national economy into recession, as well as 2003.

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