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IndustryNet Blog

Manufacturing job growth in Mississippi loses ground

Posted by IndustryNet on Wednesday, May 24, 2017

100000025_welding guyAccording to a report released this morning by MNI, researcher and compiler of the extensive U.S. manufacturing data that powers IndustryNet, Mississippi lost manufacturing jobs for the first time in four years, led by a 2.2% loss in the transportation equipment industry. Although this year's loss amounted to a slight half percent decline (1,046 jobs), it stands in contrast to the nearly 4,500 jobs the state added in the years following the recession. The state's post-recession gain was largely due to a 24% rise in transportation equipment employment, as more manufacturers moved south to escape high labor costs in other states.

Skills Gap

This past year's loss reflects a number of challenges faced by Mississippi manufacturers, including global competition and a strong dollar ' factors that plague U.S. manufacturing as a whole. Competition from neighboring states also plays a part, but a dearth of skilled workers and lagging focus on tech and innovation weighs most heavily on Mississippi's manufacturing climate.

This isn't to say the state'had'not made some progress on the challenges it faces. Important measures have been recently adopted in the state, such as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and a multitude of business incentives designed to draw more manufacturers to the state. And there's no ignoring the fact that Mississippi's cost of doing business is among the lowest in the U.S.100000025_mississippi

Bright Spots Ahead

Recent data suggests Mississippi'is slated to add some jobs in the coming months, with the new Niagara Bottling facility opening in Byhalia, as well as the establishment of Steel Dynamics in Columbus and ABB's advanced manufacturing operation in Senatobia. Looking further out into 2017, Pearl River Foods will have their poultry processing facility up and running in Carthage ' a boon to the state's important food processing sector.

By the Numbers

Mississippi's 2,711 manufacturers employ 163,663 workers. Here's a breakdown of the numbers:

The top five industries in Mississippi based on number of jobs:
1. Transportation Equipment: 25,039 jobs
2. Food Processing: 22,866 jobs
3. Industrial Machinery: 18,546 jobs
4. Furniture/Fixtures: 16,149 jobs
5. Fabricated Metals: 14,281jobs

The top five cities in Mississippi for number of manufacturing jobs:
1. Pascagoula: 14,636 jobs
2. Laurel: 7,826 jobs
3. Ellisville: 4,988 jobs
4. Tupelo: 4,722 jobs
5. Jackson: 4,598 jobs

Top Companies

Mississippi's top industrial companies are representative of the state's diverse manufacturing sector, specializing in a wide range of products from shipbuilding'and electronics'to automobiles'and upholstery. Here are the top five, based on number of employees:

1. Ingalls Shipbuilding, Inc. (Pascagoula) -- 12,500 employees. Ingalls is Mississippi's largest employer, supplying U.S. Navy surface combatants. The shipyard has built the nearly 70 percent of the U.S. Navy's warships.

2. Howard Technology Solutions (Ellisville) -- 4,300 employees. Howard designs and manufactures desktops, notebooks, and servers.

3. Nissan North America (Canton) -- 3,500 employees. Nissan's Canton plant was one of the first auto manufacturing plants to break ground in the South, assembling cars, trucks, crossovers and SUV's since 2003.

4. Howard Industries, Inc. (Laurel) ' 3,500 employees. Howard produces lighting and technology products; medium power transformers, electrical transformers, ballasts, LED lighting products, computers, servers, network products, kiosk & digital signage.

5. Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc'(Ecru) -- 2,000 employees. Ashley's 2-million square foot location is the latest upholstery plant in the world.

Regional Differences

Mississippi's manufacturing job losses were concentrated in the south of the state, with the Southwest region down 2.6% and the Southwest down 2%. These losses were offset by gains in Northern Mississippi, with employment in Northwest Mississippi up 1.8%, and up 1% in Northeast Mississippi.


This report is based on MNI's extensive profiles of manufacturers, which can be accessed as a database subscription. Or, to connect directly with all industrial suppliers in Mississippi and across the U.S. start your search on

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