censusMississippi remained the poorest state in the nation in 2015, posting the lowest median household income and the highest poverty rate in the country, according to statistics released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Median household income for Mississippians in 2015 was $40,593 – up 2.2 percent from 2014 median of $39,702. In both years, Mississippi’s income was the lowest in the country. Nationwide, the median household income was $55,775.

Comparing the growth rate of income to other states, Mississippi’s 2.2 percent rate ranks in the lower third of states. Eleven states had slower growth in median household income than Mississippi.

When asked for a comment, Clay Chandler, Gov. Phil Bryant’s director of communications sent this email response:

“I will insist that you run this in its entirety. Attribute to Gov. Bryant:

It is interesting how these statistics only seem important to the media now that Republicans have some political power. Unemployment has been reduced from 9.5 percent to 6 percent. Teen pregnancy is down 26 percent and 92 percent of third graders passed their reading test in 2016. Mississippi is recognized as the most creative state in the nation for public education by the Education Commission of the States. But Mississippi Today and other media outlets gleefully focus on the negative statistics, often produced by the Obama Administration, in an obvious attempt to discredit any gains Mississippi has made. My suggestion would be to remove the bipartisan  label from your heading and print your desires. “


Each of Mississippi’s neighboring states, with the exception of Arkansas, had higher growth rates from 2014 to 2015.

  • Mississippi: $40,593 in 2015, $39,702 in 2014 (2.2 percent growth)
  • Alabama: $44,765 in 2015, $42,895 in 2014 (4.4 percent growth)
  • Arkansas: $41,995 in 2015, $41,302 in 2014 (1.7 percent growth)
  • Louisiana: $45,727 in 2015, $44,601 in 2014 (2.5 percent growth)
  • Tennessee: $47,275 in 2015, $44,403 in 2014 (6.5 percent growth)

Meanwhile, the state’s poverty rate, 22 percent in 2015, remains the highest in the nation. That is up 0.5 percent from 2014. Nationwide, the poverty rate is 14.7 percent.

Mississippi is one of just four states in the nation with slight increases in the poverty rate, compared to the previous year.

Mississippi’s neighboring states, with the exception of Arkansas, saw decreases in poverty rates since 2014.

  • Mississippi: 22 percent in 2015, 21.5 percent in 2014 (0.5 percent increase)
  • Alabama: 18.5 percent in 2015, 19.3 percent in 2014 (-0.8 percent decrease)
  • Arkansas: 19.1 percent in 2015, 18.9 percent in 2014 (0.2 percent increase)
  • Louisiana: 19.6 percent in 2015, 19.8 percent in 2014 (-0.2 percent decrease)
  • Tennessee: 16.7 percent in 2015, 18.3 percent in 2014 (-1.6 percent decrease)

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Adam Ganucheau, as Mississippi Today's editor-in-chief, oversees the newsroom and works with the editorial team to fulfill our mission of producing high-quality journalism in the public interest. Adam has covered politics and state government for Mississippi Today since February 2016. A native of Hazlehurst, Adam has worked as a staff reporter for AL.com, The Birmingham News and The Clarion-Ledger and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Adam earned his bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Mississippi.

8 replies on “Mississippi can’t get off the bottom”

  1. Yep, Phil, that mean ol-Obama census, established in 1790, is out to make you look bad. Looks like Philbert gets pouty when there’s no huckster organization around to give him phony awards. Regardless of the political party, MS has always been last in everything (and thanks to his leadership efforts, primed to stay there).

    Classic Phil. Unemployment figures high? “BLS is lying!” Tax collections dwindling? “It’s the librul media’s fault!” $58 million accounting error? “It’s not a program cut, it’s an adjustment on revenue that didn’t exist.”

    1. I often wonder if these statements by the governor serve any purpose beyond pandering to his base. I simply can’t see any constructive purpose to them.

  2. Ignoring problems won’t make them go away. Does anyone remember Governor Fordice’s slogan of, “Only Positive Mississippi Spoken Here”? That didn’t work either.

    Political leaders in Mississippi have a long history of ignoring problems and whistling as they walk past graveyards. It appears Phil Bryant is keeping that tradition alive.

    Shortly after the murder of Emmett Till, Mississippi received a flood of negative press coverage exposing the systematic and institutional racial brutality prevalent in the state to the eyes of the world. In 1964, the murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner brought even more light upon Mississippi. All this “Negative Attention” prompted a pushback from the Governor Paul Johnson who said the three men were probably in Cuba. A car tag became popular in Mississippi shortly after the murder of the 3 civil rights workers defiantly stating, “Mississippi the most lied about state in the nation”.

    Ignoring problems won’t make then go away. Mississippi has a lot of problems from economic stagnation to underfunded schools, and a racial divide the governor pretends isn’t there. Our problems won’t go away by ignoring them. Our problems require leadership, hard work, and a willingness to face them.

    1. I agree with some of what you are saying, but leadership needs to start in the home and that is seldom mentioned. That leadership is not the responsibility of the government but of parents that bring children into the world. Every child deserves a loving father and mother to nurture and reinforce them as they enter their journey into adulthood. Ignoring that lack of leadership will not make the very beginning of problems go away either.

      1. Phil Bryant’s unwillingness to face, or even admit to, the many problems facing Mississippi is not a solution. In fact, the general inability of many in state leadership positions to deal with some of our problems like underfunded schools only worsen other problems like an undereducated workforce, and the brain drain of our young, educated, citizens to other states with more opportunities and less social stigma.

        About 35.5% of all jobs in Mississippi are low-wage, and we have the highest population of working poor and citizens living below the poverty line than any state in the nation.

        No one is arguing against the value of a two parent household. However, even if both parents are working, their income is often not enough to keep the family afloat. Too many parents in Mississippi work two or three other jobs just to put food on the table. Try raising a family when you work more than one job.

        Getting Mississippi off the bottom is going to take a long range plan and a lot of hard work on the part of government, businesses, and individuals.

        The nation sees Mississippi as poor, uneducated, racist, and irredeemably backwards.

        Ignoring our problems and picking fights with media outlets is not a solution.

        1. And there’s the fact that Phil Bryant’s uncle Roy was one of the two perpetrators in Emmett Till’s death… and his aunt spun the story that led to his death.

      2. So if the problem is that parents in poverty, working several low-paying jobs, don’t have the time to raise children correctly, then why don’t MS schools have a REAL sex-education program? Why is birth control so difficult to get (Jesus seems to be blocking the door of Planned Parenthood)? Why are the “Christians” making life so much harder for young people? States outside of the “red” south and southwest don’t have this problem. The 9 billion is making the earth “groan every time it registers another birth” (Paul Simon). NOTHING can be improved on this planet until the birth rate goes way down.

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