A nonpartisan outlet for Mississippi policy analysis and discussion , Rethink Mississippi, issued an article yesterday sounding the alarm on an issue of great importance to the long-term growth of the state.
The map shows the purple counties are gaining more people than they are losing through migration. The orange counties are losing more than they are gaining.
Too often we see the talent pool of the state moving away as soon as they leave for college or soon after graduation. Many readers of this blog probably know someone in their family or community who decided to move away from Mississippi in order to seek a different way of life. I am an example of that. As soon as I graduated from Ole Miss in 2006, I packed up the car to move out of state. After a few years away, I decided it was time to come back home to Mississippi.
In too many instances, this is not the case. Once a person is gone, he or she is gone and likely will come home for holidays, football games, weddings, and family events. Maybe their kids will come to school in Mississippi; maybe they won't. Speaking of schools, a quick glance at the map gives us an insight that if a family moves in from out of state or another part of Mississippi, they are looking to move into counties like DeSoto, Madison, and Rankin. They also have very good public schools too. Coincidence?
The problems addressed in the article should alarm business and government alike. The skills that workers bring to the table are not being greatly improved. As a result, we have generation after generation with similar skills in an era of rapidly-advancing technology across a global economy. Governments should take note that their revenue bases are shrinking beneath their feet. Our roads and infrastructure are falling apart without the resources necessary to keep up with demand and environmental regulations.
The economic conditions in too many of the orange counties are already in poor condition. Unless the business community, counties, and the state finds ways to put more purple counties on the map, our ranking at the bottom of too many measures of education, economic growth, and public health will persist.