Gov. Tate Reeves speaks to supporters at Stribling Equipment in Richland, Wednesday, May 3, 2023. Credit: Vickie D. King/Mississippi Today

Gov. Tate Reeves’ boast on social media that Mississippi’s per capita personal income increased by about $8,700 during his tenure as governor leaves out some key facts.

For instance, considerations not addressed by the Republican governor who is running for reelection this year against Democrat Brandon Presley include:

  • What happened to per capita personal income in other states during that time period?
  • And where does Mississippi now rank among the states in per capita income after the $8,700 jump?

First thing’s first: Mississippi still ranks last in per capita income among the 50 states.

According to research compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, as of calendar year 2022, Mississippi’s per capita income of $46,248 per year was last among the 50 states. West Virginia was next-to-last at $49,248.

Mississippi has been last and trying to catch West Virginia since at least 1990, according to the St. Louis Fed. Mississippi has gotten close to surpassing West Virginia at times but has never gotten over the hump.

And the governor can rightfully say the cost of living is less in Mississippi than in some other states.

But what the governor said is, “Since 2019, we’ve raised per capita personal income in Mississippi by approximately $8,700. That’s an over 22% raise for Mississippians so they can better support their families. Mississippi has momentum and we’re growing stronger every day.”

Using numbers from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Mississippi’s per capita personal income has increased $8,348 since 2018. The income growth in Mississippi during that time period is better than only West Virginia, though the Mountain State’s per capita income, as stated above, still bests Mississippi.

According to data compiled by the nonprofit State Science & Technology Institute using the Bureau of Economic Analysis information, the percent increase in per capita income during the 2018-2022 time period for Mississippi was 22.03%, which was actually a little above the national average of 21.64%.

In general, though, Mississippi was near the middle in terms of its percentage increase in income.

The SSTI study said, “Colorado had the largest jump at 26.88%, followed by Utah (26.85%), Idaho (26.19%), South Dakota (26.15%) and California (25.74%). On the other hand, Alaska (15.60%), Delaware (16.45%), Connecticut (16.52%) and Maryland (16.76%) experienced the smallest percentage changes.”

The study goes on to say that based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, $1,000 had the same buying power in January 2018 as $1,1944.40 in December 2022 — “a 19.94% difference, which certainly makes these large growths in personal income seem less impressive.”

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Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.