Pearl River County is in a prime position for growth, but some hurdles need to be overcome.
This was the general message provided by Alan Barefield, extension professor of agricultural economics in the extension service at Mississippi State University, during his presentation to members of the Greater Picayune, Pearl River Area Chamber of Commerce. County.
During the presentation, attendees learned that statewide the population dropped in 2020. However, in Pearl River County, the city of Picayune and the county as a whole saw slight growth, from 10,878 to 11,885 in the city and from 55,834 in the county. at 56,145. This put the county in 16th place in the state in population.
According to Barefield’s presentation, a large number of young people have been added to the population. He believes employment at the Stennis Space Center played a part in this since most of the center’s employees live here. This fact leads him to suspect that the population could increase further if these young people decide to stay here to start a family.
However, the declining statewide population almost meant that Mississippi would have lost a seat in Congress. Most of the state’s population loss has been seen in the delta.
Another change observed from the census was the way people identified themselves. He said there had been a 258% increase in the number of residents who identified as dual races, from 191 in the 2010 census to 684 in the 2020 census.
Housing within the Picayune city limits also saw an increase, from 4,891 to 5,356 housing units.
The number of people with a GED or diploma has been calculated at around 81%, and the number of people with a bachelor’s degree still sits at around 16.8%. As for the median income in the city and county, these numbers show that in the city the median annual income is around $30,000 and in the county that figure is $46,901.
Most jobs in this county are considered to be in the public sector. Barefield was quick to add that the statistic is not necessarily an indication that there are too many people working in government, as the statistic includes healthcare workers who work for Highland Community Hospital and the Pearl River County Hospital and Retirement Home as Forrest Health System owns or operates these facilities respectively. Government jobs also include those in education and local government. Barefield said the highest concentration of revenue was in state and local governments.
The second highest employment sector in this county is retail.
In terms of the economic status of the city and county, this area has to contend with the lure of businesses offered in surrounding areas, such as Slidell, which are not located in Picayune. To combat the leaks associated with this fact, he suggested the community engage in a shop local campaign. As for attracting the next steakhouse chain to the area, he said many businesses consider population when looking for new locations.
Other factors currently affecting businesses are supply shortages, rising energy costs and difficulty finding and retaining employees. Barefield said he heard a recent report that soaring gas prices will likely last at least until November, but he reminded attendees that the market is fluid. and events occurring abroad may play a role.
To combat the supply shortage, as with operating supplies, he suggested companies could band together to place large orders of items they can share.