By JACK WEATHERLY
Mississippi is on track to have its second consecutive year of growth in its gross domestic product, though the outlook has cooled in the first half of 2016.
Two straight years of growth would be the first since 2008, when the national recession started, according to a report from the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning’s University Research Center. A recession is generally defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction.
Growth in 2015 was .7 percent, Mississippi’s first expansion since 2012.
And the project growth for 2016 is now 1.6 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from the first-quarter report.
“We’re still expecting growth. We’re just expecting a little slower growth,” state economist Darrin Webb said in an interview.
“It largely has to do with the national economy,” Webb said.
The U.S. economy expanded at 1.1 percent in the first quarter, but the Bureau of Economic Analysis has not reported the second-quarter performance.
“It’s not so much anything we’re seeing in particular [job classifications] in Mississippi,” Webb continued.
Webb said that Mississippi nonfarm employment numbers were down .2 of a percentage point in May from April, reflecting a dramatic downturn in new jobs in May across the nation, when there was only a net gain of 38,000 jobs. There was a gain of 287,000 in June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, while the U.S. unemployment rate rose to 4.9 percent, up .2 of a percentage point from May.
U.S. GDP growth, adjusted for inflation, is projected at 2.4 percent for 2017 and 2018, according to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.
However, the bureau revised those numbers downward by .4 and .3 of a percentage point, respectively, in part from the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union.
The UK is one not one of Mississippi’s biggest import partners, ranking 17th in 2015 in terms of value of exports from the Magnolia State.
The value of Mississippi products and services bought by the UK last year amounted to $169 million, or 1.6 percent of the state’s exports, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The total value of Mississippi’s top partners from among the 28 EU nations is $107 billion, or 9.9 percent of all exports.
“If the European economy slows, that’s going to affect us. If the global economy slows, that’s going to affect us,” Webb said.
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