By JACK WEATHERLY
In the short view, the outlook for the Mississippi economy has improved nicely.
The economy for 2017 is projected by the Institutions of Higher Learning’s University Research Center (URC) to expand by 1.9 percent over 2016, up 0.4 percentage points from the last previous estimate.
But the expansion is far below the 2.6 percent growth for 2016, the URC said in its spring outlook released last week.
And 2017 looks much better for the national economy, which has been nudged up to 2.4 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The BEA projection for the nation in 2018 at this point is 2.6.
Increased consumer spending is in part the reason for the national uptick, based on higher consumer and business confidence, according to the center.
“This improved sentiment is based on anticipated regulatory and tax reform becoming effective sometime in 2018,” the report states.
In other words, “the Trump effect.”
President Donald Trump is pushing for removing what he sees as burdensome and unnecessary business regulations.
He has offered a preliminary plan to lower taxes for businesses and individuals.
But Mississippi thus far has not reacted as strongly as the rest of the nation, said Corey Miller, economic analyst for the center.
Typically, Mississippi does not react as quickly as the rest of the nation in terms of an overall improving economy, and likewise an economy on the downswing.
Louisiana, on the other hand, is not faring as well as the nation climbs out of the lingering effects of the Great Recession, which technically ended in June 2009, Miller said.
That’s because the Louisiana economy is based largely on petroleum, whose prices have suffered from an oversupply of both oil and natural gas.
Agricultural growth in 2016 accounted for most of Mississippi’s expansion last year, according to the URC. “Without the growth in this sector, overall real [adjusted for inflation] GDP growth for the state in 2016 would fall to 1.5 percent,” the report states.
Payroll employment in Mississippi is projected to grow by 0.5 of a percentage point this year, making it the smallest expansion since 2011, when there was no growth in jobs.
Meantime, wages and salaries are expected to grow this year by 3.3 percent in the state