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A visual primer on Mississippi’s brain drain (2020 update)
There is no silver bullet to reverse brain drain. It requires people to do their part on the state, local, and organizational level.
Economic and lifestyle factors cause Mississippians to leave and others to stay away.
Mississippi is heavily represented among the fastest-shrinking counties.
However, even the counties that are growing rapidly by Mississippi’s standards do not make the top 100 fastest-growing counties in the Southeastern U.S.
Mississippi’s strongest growth is concentrated in suburban areas and college towns. The Coast and Northeast have experienced the most consistent regional growth.
Even states that are growing rapidly have large swaths that are depopulating, mostly in rural areas. However, outmigration is much more widespread in Mississippi.
When people leave, their incomes and tax dollars follow. Mississippi exports nearly $170 million in economic activity to other states each year through net outmigration.
Texas and Florida are the most common destinations for Mississippians who leave.
From 2010-2019, Mississippi lost more people than it gained year. Only Louisiana and Arkansas experienced even a single year of net outmigration during that period.
Mississippi’s outmigration has negated the natural population growth that occurs when births exceed deaths. Among our surrounding states, only Louisiana is experiencing net outmigration. All other states have grown by more than 100,000 total residents since 2010.
People who have completed less than a four-year degree earn comparable incomes in Mississippi and its surrounding states. However, the average salary for people with bachelor’s degrees and beyond is significantly less in Mississippi.
Education and age are the top predictors of who will leave Mississippi. Millenials with bachelor’s degrees or beyond are most likely to leave and unlikeliest to move in from other states.
The net lifetime loss is two-fifths the size of the electorate in the 2019 gubernatorial election.
The net loss since 2010 would make up Mississippi’s third-largest city, approximately the size of Southaven.
Despite its location in the middle of the fastest-growing region in America, Mississippi perennially loses more people to other states than it attracts. A decade of outmigration has resulted in a net loss of more than 61,000 people. This is not a new phenomenon: Mississippi is the birthplace of 366,000 more people than currently live in the state.