What others can learn from Mississippi's lowest jobless rate in 41 years

Tue, 2017-06-27 06:00 -- Compassionate C...

Mississippi’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.9% in May, the state's lowest level since the U.S. Department of Labor began publishing state unemployment rates in January 1976. Some will tell you Mississippi's pioneering efforts in workforce development technology have a lot to do with it. Given the jobs crunch in so many parts of the world – particularly among young people – you may want to borrow an idea or two from the Magnolia State. – Liz Enbysk

The Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) is proud of its innovation in the workforce development space. According to the agency:

  • MDES was the first state workforce agency to develop a mobile app that employers can use to find qualified workers, and that workers can use to find jobs
  • MDES launched a mobile app that allows people to perform their weekly certification for unemployment benefits using their phone
  • Mississippi leads the first state consortium to successfully launch a multi-state unemployment insurance technology project

And the innovation doesn't end there.

MDES recently announced it has won a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor for an initiative to provide policy makers with real-time data concerning workforce development in the state.

"MDES’s success with our other technology initiatives was the key to Mississippi becoming the first state to receive this type of grant," said MDES Executive Director Mark Henry.

Connecting data
The department will use the grant to connect the programs that enable Mississippians to obtain career training and find good jobs with the education and employment information in Mississippi’s advanced State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS).

Henry says connecting the SLDS data with MDES employment, training and supportive services will lead to better decisions about workforce development.

“We can track the progress of Mississippians who complete training and get jobs in the state, and then concentrate on the most successful programs to ensure that we are using the taxpayers’ dollars in the most efficient and effective way," he explained.

More on jobs:
From Africa to Austin, "new collar" jobs open digital doors for young people
Digital skills are creating new opportunities for people with disabilities