The Biggest Industries In Mississippi

A round cotton bale in the field on a fall morning in north Mississippi.
A round cotton bale in the field on a fall morning in north Mississippi.

Mississippi is the thirty-second largest American state that is situated in the southeastern parts of the United States. It is the thirty-fourth most populous state in the U.S. with a population of about 2,986,530 people. Mississippi is surrounded by Arkansas, Louisiana, the Gulf of Mexico, Tennessee, and Alabama. The western boundary of this state is largely defined by River Mississippi. Jackson is the largest and capital city of Mississippi. Mississippi became the twentieth state to gain statehood in 1817, and by 1860, it had become the leading cotton producer in the United States. Mississippi withdrew from the Union on March 23, 1861, and became a Confederate State. It was restored into the Union in 1870, right after the civil war.

The Economy Of Mississippi

Mississippi’s economy was initially dominated by the agricultural industry, particularly the production of cotton. The elites were reluctant to build infrastructure in Mississippi. Prior to the Civil War, Mississippi was one of the wealthiest American states, and its wealth was generated from its cotton plantations. Slaves were considered to be properties; therefore, the growth in the cotton market increased their values. The wealth of Mississippi was estimated to be over $500 million in 1860, of which $218 million was the estimated value of the slaves. The value of Mississippi’s wealth had reduced to $177million by 1870.

Currently, Mississippi is ranked as one of the poorest American states. Its current state is associated with its dependence on agriculture before and after the American Civil War. The state’s slow growth is also attributed to a bill that was passed by the democrats in 1890. The bill discouraged industrial development in Mississippi in favor of agriculture. According to the Bureau-of-Economic-analysis data, the GDP of Mississippi was $95.282 billion in 2016, making it the thirty-seventh biggest economy in the U.S. in that year. Mississippi had the second-highest unemployment rate in the country in November 2019 of 5.6% right behind Alaska. Mississippi had the lowest per-capita income in the country in 2016 of $26,908.

The Biggest Industries In Mississippi

Agriculture, Fishing, And Gorestry

Agriculture was initially the most significant industry in Mississippi, with the state being the top cotton producers in the country by 1860. The region’s wealth was generated by the slaves who were working in the cotton plantations. The economy of Mississippi became less dependent on the cotton plantation during the second half of the twentieth century, with the number of farms decreasing in the state. The agricultural sector has employed over 30% of the state’s workforce.

The sector generates about $6.3 billion every year thanks to the over 41,000farms in each of the 82 counties in Mississippi. Since Mississippi is largely rural, the farms collectively span 11million acres. Other crops grown in Mississippi include soybeans, corn, wheat, peanuts, and sweet potatoes. The land that is unsuited for crop farming is largely used for pasture, orchards, and tree farming. Mississippi is ranked among the top producers of lumber and other wood-related products. The state has a strict reforestation program that protects the forestry sector by making sure all the harvested trees are replanted.

Mississippi is currently one of the biggest producers of broiler chickens in the United States. The poultry farmers managed to produce about 747 million broilers in 2018. Forestry is one of the leading agricultural sectors in Mississippi. There are over 824 cotton farms in the state which managed to produce over 1.48million bales in 2018. The state produced $623million worth of cotton, corn ($351million), cattle ($305million), hogs ($94million), wheat ($12million) in 2018. Mississippi is the leading producer of shrimps and farmed catfishes. Other saltwater and freshwater products from this state include carp, buffalo fish, red snapper, oysters, and menhaden.

Manufacturing Industry

Mississippi adopted an industrial-development program in 1936 to help balance the agricultural sector. The number of people employed by the manufacturing sector exceeded the workforce employed by agriculture for the first time in 1965. The most crucial manufactured products in Mississippi are processed foods, particularly meatpacking. Other products processed in Mississippi include grain products, dairy products, and beverages. Mississippi is one of the leading producers of upholstered products in the United States. Other goods manufactured in this state include wiring and lighting equipment, generators, automotive parts, and vehicles. There are numerous automotive factories in Mississippi, including a Nissan Automotive plant, which produces Nissan Titan, in Canton and Toyota Mississippi factory in Blue Springs. 


Natural gas and petroleum account for a considerable percentage of the minerals mined in Mississippi, both in value and volume. Some of the most important non-metallic minerals mined in Mississippi include clay, limestone, and gravel, and sand, among others. The aluminum ores found in this state are of low quality while iron has been mined since the nineteenth century.

Tourism And Entertainment

The decision to legalize casinos along the Gulf Coast and River Mississippi in 1990 has resulted in economic gain and increased revenue in the state. The gambling towns in this state have helped increase tourism. Mississippi’s gambling towns include Mississippi River’s gambling towns (Natchez, Vickburg, Greenville, and Tunica) and the Gulf Coast resort cities (Biloxi, Gulfport, and Bay St. Louis). Before the hurricane Katrina tragedy, Mississippi was the second biggest gambling U.S. state right behind New Jersey. Over $500,000perday in tax was lost when Hurricane Katrina destroyed numerous casinos in Biloxi. The casinos in Mississippi generated the sixth-highest gambling revenue in the U.S. of 42.25 billion in 2012. The Mississippi Band-of-Choctaw Indians established a casino in their reservations that produce income to support economic development and education.


Rail transportation in Mississippi has been declining since the late twentieth century; however, the secondary highway-system has improved. The heaviest volume of traffic can be found along the Gulf Coast, where several west-east and south-north routes converge. Mississippi is the only U.S. state where individuals in a vehicle are legally allowed to drink beer. Pascagoula and Gulfport can accommodate ocean-going vessels and low-draft ocean-going ships that sail up the River Mississippi to Greenville, Vickburg, and Natchez. The Gulf Intra-coastal Waterway passes via the Mississippi Sound. Mississippi is home to 6 airports, which have commercial passenger service.


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