Read the study here.
The majority of Mississippians lack the income needed to have economic security, reports a study from the Mississippi Economic Policy Center and Wider Opportunities for Women, released today.
The groups define economic security as having the means to save for retirement, emergencies and child care in addition to basic needs such as housing, transportation, food and health care. The study measures the basic needs and assets workers require for economic stability.
Matt Unwrath, director of the family economic security program at WOW, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that works to improve the economic status of women, said his group collected data for each county in Mississippi. This data provides a picture of the true cost of basic living expenses for more than 400 families and determines how much families need to earn for economic stability. He noted that the study models a conservative budget that does not include money for eating out, vacations or entertainment.
The study finds that the largest expenses families have are child care and housing. To achieve economic stability, single workers must make an annual wage of $26,664 after taxes. A single parent with an infant must earn $37,584 per year, while a family with two children must earn $55,584 per year.
"Unfortunately, as many other states in the country at large, many of the jobs being created in Mississippi don't pay these wages," Unwrath said during a telephone press conference today. "Out of all the jobs expected to be created in Mississippi in the next seven years, only slightly more than half will provide economic security for two workers raising two kids, and only a quarter of these new jobs will provide economic security to a single parent raising two kids."
The study recommends that families use the tables it provides to determine their needs and come up with a savings plan and plan for the future. It also calls for an increase in access to post-secondary education or training for Mississippians who many not have the economic means to advance themselves. Employers should provide their employees with benefits such as affordable health care, retirement-savings plans and paid sick days, the study suggests.
"All these recommendations are not new to MEPC. In fact, we have long advocated for an enhanced investment in sector initiatives that create career pathways for low-skill adults," MEPC Director Ed Sivak said today. "... What is different today is that there is convergence around these recommendations."
Sivak cited Blueprint Mississippi as an example of efforts focusing on improving the state's workforce. The Mississippi Economic Council and the Mississippi Partnership for Economic Development are spearheading the effort to provide a blueprint for the state to explore new areas of economic opportunity in the following areas: early childhood education, workforce training, culture and tourism resources, targeted industries and technology.