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Released December 1, 2004

GEORGE COUNTY EMPLOYMENT GROWING,
STILL LOWER THAN STATE AVERAGE

HATTIESBURG -Despite losses in manufacturing jobs, employment in George County has increased at a faster rate than the state average since 2001, according to findings of a recent economic base analysis. The study was conducted by the Center for Community and Economic Development at The University of Southern Mississippi.

From 2001 to 2002, employment in George County increased 3.4 percent while employment in Mississippi decreased 2.1 percent. From 2002 to 2003, George County's employment increased 7.2 percent while Mississippi's employment increased only 2.1 percent. These findings indicate that competitiveness at the local level is helping George County improve its employment.

Despite this growth, however, George County's unemployment rate of 10.2 percent remains higher than the state's unemployment rate of 6.3 percent.

The analysis also found that from 1992 to 2002, the county's per capita personal income grew 56 percent to $19,385, which ranked 48th out of 82 counties in the state. In 1992, George County ranked 56th in the state with a per capita personal income of $12,422. Government, non-agriculture, and retail trade industries paid the highest incomes in George County and represented the largest percentages of total personal income.

Other findings of the analysis include the following:

" The population of George County was 19,144 in 2000 and is projected to grow to 22,650 by 2010, an increase of 18.3 percent.

" The median age for George County is 33.3, which is comparable to both the state and the nation.

" The economy of George County is more subsidized than the economy of Mississippi. Transfer payments such as Social Security, unemployment compensation, welfare and disability payments accounted for 25 percent of total personal income in 2002. In Mississippi, transfer payments account for only 21.6 percent.

" Retail sales in 2003 grossed over $136 million, resulting in over $8.5 million in gross sales tax revenue. The highest sales occurred in the apparel and general merchandise, automotive, and food and beverages sectors.

An economic base analysis identifies and analyzes information and activities that provide the core employment and income on which the rest of the local economy depends. This information about the structure of the local economy can help local developers and officials identify the opportunities and constraints that exist for effective planning and development.

An economic base analysis provides only a snapshot of the local economy as it exists or recently existed. Further and more in-depth analyses are available from the CCED. For more information, call (601) 266-6067.

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January 19, 2005 3:36 PM