Despite decline in state's economy, Hattiesburg in good standing

Despite decline in state's economy, Hattiesburg in good standing

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hub City is outperforming the State of Mississippi, at least when it comes to economic growth.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported the Magnolia State's economy shrank by 1.2 percent in 2014. That was the second year in a row for the state to experience a decline, and only one of two in the nation with negative growth.

However, Hattiesburg's gross domestic product has increased every year over the last decade, according to Chad Newell, President of Hattiesburg's Area Development Partnership.

"We have such a strong regional economy built on the pillars of healthcare, education and the military," Newell said of contributing factors to that growth. "We also have a very robust retail sector with $2.5 billion a year in retail sales."

Newell said the diversity in the Greater Hattiesburg economy leads to job growth, as well, which is supported by numbers from the BEA that put Hattiesburg first among the state's metro areas in net job increase for 2014.

The Greater Hattiesburg area experienced a net job increase of 1,000, or 1.8 percent last year. The area's population also grew by 2.5 times more than the state's rate, according to BEA.

Newell said the area's $5.5 billion economy is growing at a "suitable pace."

"That number just continues to climb year by year," he said.

Not only are the good things growing in Hattiesburg, but the unsatisfactory categories are decreasing.

Newell said the unemployment rate in Greater Hattiesburg was at its lowest since before the Recession, sitting at five percent.

"I am just absolutely stoked about where our economy stands right now," he said.

According to statistics posted by BEA, nearly every industry in Greater Hattiesburg is at its highest since 2001.

"Part of being successful is being adequately prepared," Newell explained, "and our community is very prepared on the economic development front."

For a look at other economic statistics for the Greater Hattiesburg area, click here.