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Projected job and salary growth report...

Projected job and salary growth report reinforces value of investment in Mississippi’s public universities

By: Alfred McNair - April 10, 2024

(photo by Russ Houston / Mississippi State University)

  • Dr. Alfred McNair says Mississippi’s universities are well-positioned to serve as economic drivers for the state.

Strategically located around the state and offering a broad range of programs, Mississippi’s eight public universities and the University of Mississippi Medical Center are a sound investment for our people and our future. With oversight from the Board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL), the investment is paying strong dividends.

Statistics don’t lie and the statistics for our universities tell a story of success. Consider some of these statistics from the University Research Center—for every dollar invested in IHL, the state’s GDP increases by $1.72 and personal income increases by $1.52. IHL is projected to have an economic impact of more than $8 billion on Mississippi’s economy by 2030. In FY 2022, $641 million in external research funding was invested in more than 2,200 research projects across our university system.

Those are strong statistics, and a new report from the University Research Center (a division of IHL) offers more good news about projected job and salary growth and the role that Mississippi’s universities play in helping those projections become realities.

Based on projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the report offers some interesting insight into the top 20 jobs in the state with the highest projected growth through 2032. 

The majority of the job growth is anticipated in the health care sector, with the highest projected growth (97.2%) in the field of nurse practitioner. In 2022, the median annual wage for a nurse practitioner was $108,920. Four of Mississippi’s public universities, along with the University of Mississippi Medical Center, offer degrees related to this field at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels.

The job with the second highest projected growth is conservation scientist, with a projected growth of 53.3% and a 2022 median annual wage of $72,820. Every one of the state’s public universities offer degrees and majors aligned with this job, six of them offer graduate degrees related to this field, and four offer doctoral degrees.

The University Research Center presents specific details related to each of the 20 occupations noted in this report, but there is an important theme that emerges from their findings: Mississippi’s public universities play a critical role in the economic development of our state, a role that extends far beyond the classroom and into the everyday lives of Mississippians.

Of the 20 jobs noted in the report, 14 would require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. And because of the state’s investment in our universities, they are well-equipped to educate students from across Mississippi and beyond for these fast-growing and high-paying jobs. They are well-respected as centers of excellence in research and development. And, they are well-positioned to serve as economic drivers for the state, supporting existing jobs and the creation of jobs that don’t yet exist.

The prospects of job and income growth are important to every Mississippian. The paths by which we reach that growth—our public universities—are equally important.

About the Author(s)
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Alfred McNair

Dr. Alfred McNair Jr. is the current president of the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning.