I’m not an economist, but when I read articles like this one in the Northeast Daily Journal about Mississippi’s tax revenues being down I conclude that Mississippi is in a statewide economic recession.
From the article:
Mississippi’s July revenue report, released on Monday during the final days of August, reveals the state collected $11.5 million or 3.9 percent less than it did during July 2015.
Nearly all categories of tax collections were down from the previous July. The two largest sources of revenue – sales taxes and personal income taxes – were down $1.8 million or 2.4 percent and $4.2 million or 3.9 percent respectively.
Translation: Mississippians are earning less and spending less than a year ago.
Those seem like huge one year declines. What does the state economy look like if that trend continues for a few years?
The numbers are terrible news for attorneys. My favorite description of what makes a good economic climate for lawyers is one with lots of people moving around. You can apply the analogy to everything from fender benders to contracts for economic developments. In either setting, more people moving around means more people running into each other and generating more opportunities for lawyers.
When an economy is drying up (receding), people are moving around less. When they move around less, they run into each other less. And have even less money to spend on attorneys.
You can find a lot of opinions about what’s to blame for Mississippi’s economic woes. My opinion: it’s complicated.
My chief concern is what it means for the reality on the ground for the profession. It’s not good–it can’t be good.
If the trend continues, another trend will continue: a brain drain of talented lawyers leaving the state for better opportunities elsewhere. In retrospect, this trend started at least a decade ago. But it’s hard to notice a trend when it first starts. It’s more obvious now. Look for it to continue.