How much have wages changed for Mississippians in the past decade?

This morning, the Mississippi Economic Policy Center released a report on the State of Working Mississippi in 2012, showing how wages, education levels and other factors have changed in Mississippi's work force over the past decade.

The full report is available online at mepconline.org, but here are some of the highlights that stood out:

Who's making bank?
- The median hourly wage for workers in the state rose only marginally from 2000 to 2010, from $13.13 to $13.45.
- The gap between the median wage for men and women is shrinking. In 2000, the median wage for men was $15.41, while women made only $10.96. In 2010, men made $14.29 per hour, while women made $12.75. Wages for both men and women are higher than they were in 1990, when men made $12.64 per hour and women made $9.64.
- The gender gap in wages is smaller in Mississippi than in the nation overall. In the United States as a whole, women make 83 percent of what their male counterparts do, while in Mississippi, women's wages are at 89 percent of men's wages.
- The median wage for African Americans was only 70 percent of what whites made in 2010—$11.02 for African Americans compared to $15.66 for whites.

Economics 101
- From 2000 to 2010, wages rose by 2.4 percent, while community-college tuition increased by 56 percent and university tuition increased by 40 percent.
- As of last school year, a year of community college costs $2,114 and a year at a university costs $5,067
- The median wage for workers with a high school degree is $11.76. The median wage for workers with a bachelor's degree or higher is $20.61.

- In the United States as a whole, about 15 percent of people live below the poverty line. Mid-South states have poverty rates from about 18 to 19 percent. Mississippi's poverty rate is 22.4 percent, meaning more than one in five Mississippians is living in poverty.
- Almost a third of Mississippi's children live in poverty. The situation is worse for African American children, of whom almost half live below the poverty line.
- To be above the poverty line, according to federal standards, a family of four must earn at least $22,314 per year. With one person working full time, that works out to $10.73 per hour.
- To adjust for the state's cost of living, MEPC defines low-wage jobs as those paying $9.54 per hour or less. Throughout Mississippi, 28 percent of workers have low-wage jobs by that standard.

- In fiscal year 2010, Mississippi collected $6.56 billion in state taxes.
- The largest source of state tax revenue—44 percent—came from sales and use taxes. Personal income taxes made up 26 percent of state revenue. Corporate income tax revenue accounted for 7 percent.
- Mississippi relies heavily on sales taxes, which take a higher percentage of lower-income residents' earnings than those of higher-income residents.
- Mississippi and Alabama are the only two states that extend the full sales tax to groceries without any offsetting credits. Many services such as pet grooming and massages are not taxed.
- Families making $30,000 and $3 million are in the same tax bracket.
- Income for the top 20 percent of earners as grown almost twice as much as income for groups at the bottom and middle of the earning scale.
- About 80 percent of corporations operating in Mississippi pay no state corporate income tax.


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