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Mississippians graying, becoming more diverse

What does the “average” Mississippian look like? As a population, more of us have gray hair as the median age is rising. In 1990, it was 31.2 years. Today, it is 34.4 years.
And we are becoming more diverse. The percentage of non-white residents increased from 36.5% to 38.6% between 1990 and 2000.

However, Mississippi does not have the highest percentage of minority population in the country. In three states, “minorities” are in a majority. Hawaii’s minority population is 77%, New Mexico, 56% and California, 54%. The District of Columbia is 72% minority.

Mississippi continues to have the highest percentage of African-American residents at 36%. Compared to other surrounding states, Louisiana has an African-American population of 33%, South Carolina, 30%, Georgia and Maryland, 29%, and Alabama, 27%.

Mississippi’s Asian population is small but growing from 0.5% in 1990 to 0.7% in 2000. American Indians went from 0.3% to 0.4%. The fraction of Hispanics (who can be of any race) grew from 0.6% in 1990 to 1.4%. Their numbers grew from 15,931 to 39,569.

There was also a slight increase in the fraction of males in the 1990s in Mississippi, 47.8 to 48.3%, and a corresponding slight decrease in the fraction of females.

“But the 2000 census counted better than the 1990 Census did, and males are usually harder to count than females,” says State Demographer Dr. Barbara Logue. “So I wouldn’t make too much of this.”

The state is fairly evenly divided between urban and rural residents, but there is a slight increase in urban residents. In 1990, the rural percent was 52.9; in 2000, it was 51.2%. The state’s population is becoming more urban over time, Logue said.

Still largely a rural state, Mississippi comes in 31st in the country in total population. In 2002, Mississippi had a household population of 2.8 million — 1.4 million (52%) females and 1.3 million (48%) males. The median age was 34.4 years. Twenty-seven percent of the population were under 18 years and 12% were 65 years and older.

However, bucking a national trend, Mississippi has the lowest percentage of foreign-born population of any state in the country. Only 1.1% of people in Mississippi were born in another country.

The foreign-born population of the United States exceeded 33 million in 2002, slightly more than the entire population of Canada, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey (ACS). An estimated 11.8% of U.S. residents were foreign-born, and they accounted for 44% of the nation’s population growth in 2002. A majority of the foreign-born residents live in four states: California (28%), New York (11.8%), Texas (9.8%) and Florida (8.9%).

“The growth of the nation’s foreign-born population reflects how attractive this country remains, both politically and economically, for people around the world,” said Census Bureau director Louis Kincannon.

The per capita income in Mississippi — the average income received per person — grew 2.3% in 2003, slower than the growth rates during the latter half of the 1990s, but nearly double the growth rate of 2002, according to estimates released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Connecticut led the nation with an average income of $43,173, and Mississippi came in last at $23,448.

Population demographics and economics are intricately connected. “Thousands of books and articles have been written on the complex interactions,” Logue said. “In general, minorities everywhere, not just in Mississippi, have less education, poorer health, more kids and are more likely to be single parents. These factors all affect earnings potential and hence per capita income, not to mention public expenditures to remedy some of the problems.”

But not all the news is bad. Logue said compared to 1990, Mississippi’s workforce ages of 25 to 59 in 2000 was numerically larger (although the labor force participation rate declined), older, more diversified by race and sex and more well educatedand better paid. The percentage of full-time, year-round workers increased, and there was a greater percentage of workers in the managerial/professional occupations.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Becky Gillette at bgillette@bellsouth.net.


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