An individual searches job sites for employment possibilities at the Mississippi Department of Employment Security WIN Job Center in Jackson. Credit: 2012 AP file photo

The Mississippi Department of Employment Security has secured a $2.5 million federal grant to improve the state’s employment and workforce data. 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s employment and training administration heads the grant program, which helps states grow databases to examine whether education programs lead to jobs, if jobseekers are selecting training-related positions, and the impact of training on workers’ wages. 

“The grant will allow us to improve the quality and breadth of data in Mississippi’s mature state longitudinal data system,” Mississippi employment office spokeswoman Dianne Bell said in a statement.

Bell also said the funds will allow the state to better evaluate its job training programs by adding information from unemployment insurance wage records.

The grant comes as the state plans to double down on addressing labor shortfalls with a new workforce development office. Ryan Miller, a former program director at the University of Mississippi, began as the office’s first executive director in the spring.

When Miller’s appointment was announced in March, Gov. Tate Reeves said the new office will strategize how to move more Mississippians into higher paying jobs and train more workers to meet the demands of modern labor needs. 

The improved data through the grant program is aimed at aiding state leaders, employers and educators in identifying the pathways and programs that lead skilled workers to higher paying, in-demand positions. The data can also help workers make informed decisions about their own education and job interests, according to the department of labor. 

Mississippi is one of five states to receive a total of $11.6 million in federal funds to analyze their respective programs and services that help jobseekers find and keep higher paying positions. 

This is round eight of the program’s grant distribution. Mississippi also received $2.7 million through the same program in 2017. 

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