Census data shows Mississippi’s population declining

Updated: Apr. 27, 2021 at 9:36 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi is one of just three states that’s lost population in the last decade, according to the 2020 Census information released this week.

Fewer folks identifying as Mississippians isn’t a shock to many.

“A lot of our friends that I grew up with left the state and didn’t come back,” said Schuyler Dixon. “What brought us back was family, but for a lot of folks whose families leave too, there isn’t much of a draw here. There has to be some kind of reason to come back, whether that’s jobs or technology.”

“Wherever you are, come on home to Mississippi,” added Linda Harvey.

2020 Census Map: Percent Change in Resident Population for the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico: 2010 to 2020.

So, the drop amounted to -0.2%, which is about 6,000 people. Mississippi Economic Council President and CEO Scott Waller believes COVID impacted the count.

“I think it’s safe to say that we really are at a relatively flat growth rate,” said Waller.

Rep. Chris Bell echoed concerns that the count may not have captured everything.

“I don’t believe that our count is correct, said Bell. “You have individuals who are afraid to fill out the census forms because they feel like the government has a furious idea with respect to gaining information.”

The bigger concern is about the growth in all the other Southern states. Rep. Bell says there are things they’re investing in that Mississippi’s not.

“I’ll be honest with you; healthcare is one,” noted Bell. “Education is two and actively recruiting fortune 500 companies.”

Waller says changing the state flag was a significant first step in changing the state’s image. He also points to the state’s recent creation of the Office of Workforce Development.

“That’s where it’s really going to all begin,” said Waller of workforce development. “If we create the type of workforce that our companies that are here now need, then they’re going to grow. When they grow, that’s going to mean more jobs, better jobs, higher per capita income jobs which in result will help us really begin to keep and attract the talented workers that may be going elsewhere.”

Another selling point mentioned by Waller was quality of life and making sure that’s a focus, particularly for young people.

“I think you’ll start to see that trend reverse itself,” said Waller referencing if the state refocuses efforts on its changed image, workforce development, and sense of place.

The state will now have to operate with fewer federal dollars because of the population drop.

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