M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I. The state that was the nail in the coffin for all our spelling tests in elementary school. While it might be one of the most confusing states to spell, it is more than just a jumble of repeating letters. It’s big magnolia trees shading front porches. It’s a slower pace of life wrapped around a simple existence. It’s also the birthplace of Elvis Presley and blues music. It’s kind of a big deal.
This soulful southern state that has the alligator as its official reptile is worth checking out for a number of reasons. We’ve just happened to compile a few to help in deciding whether the Magnolia State should or should not be on your “move to” list. We’re not telling you what to do. We’re just helping you along in your journey.
The job market and economic state of this southern belle has been questionable at best the past 10 years. As a state, it’s struggled to recover from the 2008 recession, and the job market has keenly felt that pain. Mississippi is ranked the state 46th overall for best states for job and economic opportunities, even though it has one of the lowest unemployment rates its seen in years at 4.5%.
While the economy is still trying to come back from a monster hit, the state remains affordable (an unintended consequence). U.S. News ranked it 13th for affordability overall, and 1st for affordable cost of living. That’s good news for your healthcare costs, utilities and weekly supply of Oreos. It’s also good that the state is so affordable, with minimum wage at $7.25 an hour.
As for jobs to take care of that Oreo fixation, agriculture and forestry are the supreme rulers. Agriculture employs around 30% of the state’s workers on farms covering more than 10 million acres of land, making it the state’s number one industry.
Other leading industries include manufacturing, trade, education and health services. The top fastest growing jobs are physician’s assistant, home health aide and industrial mechanic. Out of the 10 professions listed, five relate to health services. It makes sense, considering the organizations with the largest workforces in the state include the University of Mississippi Medical Center and North Mississippi Medical Center.
While it seems the Magnolia State offers affordable living for its citizens, at what cost are you willing to get it? At the cost of job security, a livable paycheck, or your Oreos? We’re putting that decision in your hands.
Another consequence of a struggling economy is migration. Last year, Mississippi lost almost 8,000 due to migration out of the state. Most people are leaving to look for better jobs and economic opportunities. A big portion of those people are college graduates; only a little more than half of the graduates from the state’s eight public universities are still living and working in the state five years after graduation.
Consequently, the housing prices reflect the stagnant population. U.S. News ranked the state’s housing affordability 23rd in the nation. Not only is the cost of living low, housing has also followed suit. The median home value is $120,300 while the rent is $1,100. As in most states, however, housing costs are expected to rise 3.5% over the next year.
A decrease in population also means a decrease in the need for new housing. Sources say the majority of homes in the state were built between 1970 and 1979, and there isn’t much new construction to be found. Most new construction is focused around the coastal areas. Even the capital, and largest urban center, Jackson, sees very few opportunities for new construction purchases.
Mississippi is a state with a rich southern history layered throughout with delectable soul food. From its place as the second state to secede from the Union in 1861, to being at the forefront of the civil rights movement in the middle of the 20th century, Mississippi has been a state in constant transition. It’s been struggling to find its place.
One thing the state did find (and they’re proud of it) is it’s appreciation for music. Not only was the King himself from a tiny town in ol’ Miss, but blues music originated here, evolving from the spirituals and hymns sung by African slaves while they worked on the plantations.
As a largely rural and poor state (21% of the state was below the poverty line in 2016), most of its population has embraced a slower pace of living rooted deep in southern charm and hospitality, but with a fighting spirit. Go to the Magnolia State and you’ll find a state that may be struggling to evolve with the rest of the U.S., but also a state with people ready to embrace the coming years.
In addition to soulful music and food, Mississippi embraces a more soulful life than any other state in the nation (hence, it is home to the largest bible-binding plant in the country). It’s tied for the most religious state in the country with Alabama. While 77% of adults identify as highly religious, they also tend to lean further to the right in matters of politics, with the state voting Republican in every presidential election since 1980.
This southern charmer offers plenty one-of-a-kind experiences for any newcomer. You may be surprised by the number of non-alligator-related adventures one can have in ol’ Miss (although there is a surprising number of them too). Here are some of the top ones we found.
Must-sees in the state:
Mississippi is a state that has struggled in the past due to significant cultural circumstances. That doesn’t mean that even during these tribulations, it doesn’t offer its citizens some goody bags once in a while. The fight is real, but where there is struggle, there is still hope for growth.
Pros of living in ol’ Miss:
Cons of living in ol’ Miss:
Every state has its fair share of weird laws that everyone either ignores or doesn’t realize exist. Mississippi has definitely come up with plenty of strange ones over the years. We’re hoping it’s not only the citizens choosing to ignore them, but law enforcement as well.
Weird laws to watch out for in the state:
At first glance, it may seem like Mississippi is struggling to get its bearings in the new millennium. It’s also a state that’s trying desperately to provide for its citizens. While it's unlikely all of them will up and leave, the large out-migration of the last few years is worrying for a state with an economy eager for a boost.
As with most states in transition, there are positives along with the unfortunate negatives. The people and the culture are definitely two big ones. If you can take the good with the bad, and spin it for your own personal victory, be our guest. Mississippi is ready and willing to welcome you into the fold. As long as you’re game for a catfish fry later.