New report shows Gulf Coast job growth highest in low-wage sectors

New report shows Gulf Coast job growth highest in low-wage sectors
(Photo source: WLOX)
(Photo source: WLOX)

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The good news from coast business leaders is the health of the overall coastal economy is "incredibly resilient." The bad news? New data shows there is a "looming problem" the coast must overcome: Employment is flat and there aren't enough new, high paying jobs.

The Gulf Coast Business Council spent a year taking a critical look at economic indicators across South Mississippi. Tuesday, they presented their findings to more than 300 community leaders at the IP Casino Resort.

The myth about the coast being economic powerhouse was quickly dispelled by John Hairston, the President of the GCBC. While the rest of the state has rebounded from the great recession of 2008, The coast has faltered. In fact, since Katrina struck in 2005, the coast has lost 11,000 jobs. Since the BP oil spill in the summer of 2010, the coast has lost 4,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, wages are stagnant and so is economic growth. The report also shows the wage gap is growing.

"We're not adding enough high paying jobs," said Hairston

Jobs are being added in the tourism and retail sectors, and they're outpacing higher paying occupations. A look at the Top Ten Fastest Growing Occupations from 2006-2016 shows waitstaff and cooks at the top of the list:

  1. Waiters and Waitresses
  2. Cooks, Restaurant
  3. Gaming Dealers
  4. Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners
  5. Cashiers
  6. Registered Nurses
  7. Landscaping and Grounds-Keeping Workers
  8. Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerks
  9. First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers
  10. Security Guards

Occupations that experienced little to no growth or net decline over a five-year period (2012-2016) include a number of professional occupations including legal, computer/mathematical, military and defense which are regarded as high paying occupations.

Researchers predict the loss of those jobs, combined with the increase of service sector jobs paying at or below average earnings, will likely to contribute to a slowdown in the Gulf Coast region's overall economy.

The report said employment in the Gulf Coast region is expected to remain relatively stable through 2025. But job growth will be stronger across the state and the nation.

Hairston urged everyone to fight for the vast majority of the BP restoration money coming to the state. He told the crowd the vast majority of the economic damage was done in the three coastal counties, and the money needs to be spent here to repair our economy. He said while the news is not very rosy, the trends are reversible if everyone works together.

Those who attended the address told WLOX News Now the numbers are certainly eye-opening and pledged their support to make sure the coast becomes an economic powerhouse once again.

Read the full report here:

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