Mississippi’s energy production and distribution industry employs over 22,000 Mississippians, and average energy salary in Mississippi is $63,456, nearly twice the overall private sector average wage ($33,524). Presently, the concentration of energy jobs in Mississippi is higher than would be expected given national averages.
The challenge: Presently, energy jobs represent only 2.6% of Mississippi’s private sector workforce. Increasing that percentage is a key goal of the Mississippi Energy Institute and state leaders.
Overall, pay levels in Mississippi are still considerably below national averages overall. That is, employers do not have to pay as much in Mississippi for labor as in other U.S. locations.
The energy sector in Mississippi, however, pays higher wages in comparison to the private sector overall in the state. The energy industry provides the sort of high quality, family-sustaining jobs that economic developers seek to grow.
The energy sector requires specialized education, skills and training for jobs such as geoscientists and engineers. Energy extraction requires skilled personnel from field workers managing complex processes (such as mining or hydraulic fracturing) to production engineers with graduate engineering degrees. Refinery operations require specialized training and the growth of a biorefinery model will need these specialized skills. Electric energy production and distribution is also a skills-driven industry as diverse as line workers to nuclear engineers.
Mississippi leaders are devising strategies that will transition our state to a different workforce business model. This transition implies moving beyond a business model that sees workforce as primarily a low-skill, low-technology commodity to a model deeply rooted in a highly skilled workforce making extensive and intensive use of technology.