Mississippi's net migration loss since 2010 is almost equal to the population of Biloxi, the state's fifth-largest city.

The exodus out of Mississippi shows no signs of abating, according to Census estimates released today. Between July 2016 and July 2017, nearly 8,000 more people left the state than moved in, bringing the full outmigration tally since 2010 to 42,811.

In just seven years, Mississippi’s net brain drain has exceeded the population of all but five cities (Jackson, Gulfport, Southaven, Hattiesburg, Biloxi). The outflow has been persistent and exceptional: Mississippi has lost more people than we have attracted in each calendar year since 2010 despite being located in middle of the fastest-growing region in America. Aside from Louisiana, no other Southeastern state has experienced a net loss for even a single year over that period.

In each of the past three years, Mississippi’s total population has declined as people have left faster than they can be replenished through natural population growth (more births than deaths). Mississippi was one of just eight states to lose absolute population in 2016-17. Only two other states, Illinois and West Virginia, have shed population each year since 2014. During those three years, the United States has grown by 7 million people — 4 million of whom live in the South.

At the time of the 2010 Census, Mississippi was the 31st-largest state by population, with 52,000 more residents than no. 32 Arkansas. Arkansas — one of the slowest-growing states in the South — is now home to 20,000 more people than Mississippi, having surpassed us for the first time in history in 2017. Mississippi has also fallen below Utah and Nevada, to no. 34.

Here’s the rest of what we know about Mississippi’s population crisis:

  • Mississippians under 35 account for nearly 90% of net migration losses. The only age range Mississippi is attracting is 55-64. (IRS; my calculations)
  • Mississippi lost 3.9% of its millenial population (born 1980-2000) between 2010-2016. No other state exceeded a 2.8% decline during that time. (Census; calculations by Governing Magazine)
  • The more education a person gets, the less likely they are to live in Mississippi. From 2010-14, Mississippi lost, on net, 3,971 people with graduate degrees and an additional 4,833 with bachelor’s degrees. Mississippi gained 576 people with some college or associate’s degrees, lost 97 people with high school diplomas or GEDs, and gained 3,363 people who did not complete high school. (Census; only includes people age 25 and older)
  • Only half of recent graduates from Mississippi’s four-year public universities are working in the state five years after receiving a degree. Slightly more than 60% of in-state students have been retained, and a mere 7% of out-of-state students. (Mississippi Lifetracks/IHL)
  • The largest destinations for Mississippi expatriates are Texas, Georgia, and Florida. (Census)
  • Each year of brain drain leaches an additional $100-150 million in net personal income out of the state, which compounds over time as those who have moved away put down roots and build careers. Mississippi’s movers from 2011-2016 transmitted a cumulative $1.4 billion in income to other states. The largest recipients of Mississippi’s brain drain subsidy are Texas ($530 million), Florida ($323 million), Tennessee ($175 million), and Alabama ($156 million). (IRS; my calculations)
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