What’s keeping Millennials in Mississippi?

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Mississippi may lead the nation in losing Millennials, but far more people born between 1981 and 2000 still call the state home.

From 2010 to 2016, 31,270 Millennials left the state, a 3.9 percent decrease. But 801,799 Millennials remain.

What’s keeping them here?

Looking beyond the bonds of family and friends, the cost of living is one good reason. A Tax Foundation analysis found that the relative value of $100 in Mississippi is the highest in the country, worth $115.74 in spending power.

Source: taxfoundation.org

 

Brittany Bright

Gautier native Brittany Bright, 24, decided take a job as an advertising account coordinator in her hometown after graduating from the University of Mississippi in 2016, even though she had job opportunities in other cities outside the state.

The only other option that was seriously considered was Chicago. Although I would raise my child around family there, the apartment search was daunting,” Bright said. “I did not see where I could afford to live comfortably in Chicago and still have disposable income. I would have gotten paid more in Chicago, but because the cost of living is so much higher, I do not think the higher pay would have mattered much.”

Mississippi leads the U.S. in losing Millennials

It’s no surprise that Phillip Rollins, a 32-year-old Jackson DJ and owner of Offbeat record and comic book shop, appreciates access to Mississippi music, particularly gospel and blues.

Phillip Rollins

But his desire to inspire positive change in his community through his business venture is strong motivation for him to stay close his hometown of Ridgeland.

“My family (is important), but also the drive to instill change here. I want to make a change in the community, so I’m doing so the only way I know how,” Rollins said.

That same desire keeps DeSean Dyson, 33, in his hometown of Jackson. Dyson is the Head of School at The Redeemer School.

“My personality, passion and Christian conviction drive me to where the need is,” Dyson said. “With education, disrupting systematic poverty and injustice being some of my core beliefs, Mississippi provides me with the context I feel called to work in the most.”

DeSean Dyson

Rep. Robert Foster, R-DeSoto, is a part of the Mississippi Future Caucus, a group of Millennial legislators in state House of Representatives. He has spent most of his life in Mississippi, and he is concerned that so many smart, ambitious Millennials find better opportunities elsewhere.

Foster suggests education reform is key to keeping more young Mississippians in Mississippi.

“I believe the last two generations, mine and the one following me, have been misled by our education system,” Foster said. “The reason I say that, we have … everyone believing that they are a failure if they don’t have a college degree.

Gil Ford Photography

Robert Foster

“You still gotta have skilled labor, and those workers don’t necessarily need a four-year college degree,” he said.

While Mississippi’s community college system trains some students for vocational jobs, Foster believes that kind of instruction should begin in high school, while not cutting off college prep coursework for those students interested in going to four-year colleges.

“Now they can go to junior college to further their skills, but why wait until they walk out of high school to start teaching them how to do something to make a living?” Foster said.

Despite the negatives, perceived and real, that may cause Millennials to leave their home state, other members of their generation are optimistic.

John Spann

“The main reason I am still working and living here is because I feel that Mississippi is truly on the cusp of a break through, and I want to be a part of that,” said 26-year-old Jackson resident John Spann, who works as an education historian. “There are many other Millennials working in Mississippi who are striving to bring growth to the state and it is a pleasure to work with them.

“Mississippi is not perfect and there is still work to be done, but strides of progress have been made,” he continued. “Mississippi is home to me, it is where my family and fiends are, and where I have found myself.”

  • Otis

    Anyone who has ever stumbled across Robert Foster’s twitter account knows he’s more interested in spewing inflammatory rhetoric than solving problems.

    • Duan C.

      I seriously thought he was in his 50’s or older, considering his talking points and legislative focus.

      • Otis

        Like most members of the Mississippi Legislature, Foster is only really concerned with pandering to the base and picking the low hanging fruit of division. Trying to solve problems takes hard work and the ability to reach across the aisle. There’s no room for growth with ego getting in the way.

        This state is never going to get off the bottom until our “leaders” start working together to find solutions.

        • Duan C.

          Agreed.

          I was talking with my supervisor a while back, and they are a card carrying conservative compared to my liberal tendencies. We both are just baffled by the lack of focus on the states infrastructure, healthcare, education, workforce, entertainment, tourism, quality of communications, just to name a few. We have four direct neighbors – Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Alabama – they set the tone for our region and we should be asking how do we measure up to our neighbors. That is not happening. Instead, we deal year in and year out with antiquated social matters – like gay marriage and abortion. We are literally spinning our wheels on those social issues. Considering the fiscal condition of this state, addressing social issues does not prevent potholes, transit times, nor improve quality of the workforce. Tired of the moral politics, its time to get in home repair mode.

          • Otis

            Republicans and Democrats in Tennessee worked together to make Community Colleges free for residents because they rightly see it as an investment in the future. Our “leaders” can’t even fund the highway department and are too interested in pandering to do any real work.

    • Thile

      I’ve seen his social media work. Another mediocre legislator with The Look™ who spouts off the usual GOP talking points (corporate tax cuts put money in the pockets of taxpayers, librulz iz bad, etc.)

      Also, how have people been “misled” by the education system into believing good jobs require a degree? Has he looked at any job boards lately?

      (The Look™ is boots, dad jeans, and a button-down with rolled up sleeves—to project an image of “I’m going to work for you.”)

      • Otis

        Foster fancies himself a self-made man and farmer in the style of Thomas Jefferson. The truth is Foster inherited his farm from his physician father who also paid for his education at Ole Miss.

        We need less pandering rhetoric from our legislature and more corporation on real issues. Young people are leaving our state for better opportunities and a less suffocating social environment.

      • Duan C.

        Don’t forget the Labrador Retriever, pick-up truck, walking with the family on some dirt road, talking to men in hats and short sleeve oxford shirts, and shot gun over the shoulder.

        Its predictable and generic.

        List your accomplishments, what your goals are and let me know you are focused on real tangible issues.