About 18,250 people are employed in the automotive industry.
Results of the study were released Thursday at the Greater Jackson Partnership by the Mississippi Economic Council and Move Mississippi Forward.
MEC is the state’s chamber of commerce and Move Mississippi Forward is a group created at least in part to promote the automotive industry while opposing unionization of the industry. The report was released against the backdrop of the planned vote later this summer on whether to unionize Nissan in Canton, the state’s largest automaker.
Regardless of whether unionization will be good or bad for the industry, the report highlighted the positive impact of the automotive sector on the state’s economy.
“The results unequivocally show that the automotive industry is a powerful economic force in Mississippi, ”Domenico “Misso” Parisi, executive director of the National Strategic Planning & Analysis Research Center, said in a news release.
Mississippi’s automotive sector is anchored by the Nissan plant in Canton and the Toyota plant at Blue Springs in Northeast Mississippi. While the placement of Nissan in central Mississippi in the early 2000s is cited as key to making the state a competitor in the so-called southern auto corridor, Toyota, which opened in 2011 and now employs 2,000, is a key to the economic engine of Northeast Mississippi.
The auto industry also includes suppliers such as Cooper Tire in Tupelo and Yokohama Tire in West Point. According to the study, 32 Mississippi counties have facilities that manufacture parts for the automotive industry, including Lee, Tishomingo, Itawamba, Monroe, Pontotoc, Union, Marshall, Benton, Clay and Oktibbeha counties in Northeast Mississippi.
According to the study, the industry:
• Accounts for $5.7 billion of the state’s total gross domestic product of $90 billion.
• Provides average yearly earnings of $50,510 compared to the overall Mississippi average of $37,642.
• Accounts for an estimated additional $568 million in local and state tax revenue.
• Creates two jobs in other sectors for every automotive job.
Dolphus Weary, co-chair of Move Mississippi and one of the leaders of Mission Mississippi, a racial reconciliation group, said he supports the right of the Nissan employees to vote on whether to unionize, but said he believes the industry is making strides and helping improve the economy of the state with no union.
“It has changed our state for the better,” Weary said.
Supporters of a union say one is needed to improve the working conditions at Nissan.