By Ranada Robinson, Research Manager
In the first installment of our post about Hancock County, MS and its journey since Hurricane Katrina, we talked about the county’s success in bouncing back and rebuilding its community and economy. This installment takes a look at a few key indicators to begin to see the dynamics of that progress. This brief analysis is but a glimpse of the many data indicators we at Market Street explore during our strategy processes to understand a community’s story.
As shown in the following population table, Hancock County has not reached its population levels immediately before Hurricane Katrina hit, but it is very close and steadily growing. As shown clearly in the Population Index chart, which allows apples-to-apples comparison of growth rates despite geography size, Hancock County’s comparatively rapid population growth is catching up to the state’s steady growth over the time period.
In terms of age dynamics, in 2014, Hancock County has the same percentage of 25-44 year olds in its population (23.8 percent) as it did when Market Street developed the community’s Competitive Assessment in 2011, when the most recent age data available was 2009. The population of retirees (65+) has increased to 17.3 percent, while the proportion of children 17 and under has decreased to 22.1 percent.
POPULATION INDEX, 2001 = 100
In terms of employment, the county bounced back very quickly, then began a consistent incline until 2010. Since then, there has been a decrease in jobs, mostly in construction, administrative and support services, manufacturing, and transportation and warehousing. In the last four years, the greatest number of added jobs has been in retail trade, accommodation and food services, and healthcare and social assistance. Despite this shift, average annual wages have continued to rise, establishments are opening, and unemployment is still on the decline.
EMPLOYMENT INDEX, 2001=100
AVERAGE ANNUAL WAGES
For resident well-being, I took a quick look at per capita income and poverty rates. Per capita income shot up after Hurricane Katrina, presumably due to government assistance and those who took advantage of dividends and interest income to help them through the rebuilding phases. Since then, the PCI has returned to pre-Katrina levels, closer to the state PCI. Poverty and youth poverty are gradually increasing over time, which is also a national and state trend.
PER CAPITA INCOME, 2001-2013
COMPONENTS OF INCOME, HANCOCK COUNTY, 2001-2013
Again, this is only a peek in the window of all the data that helps to tell Hancock County’s story. As with all communities, other indicators such as migration trends, educational attainment, racial and ethnic dynamics, economic structure analysis, and many quality of life indicators are instrumental in understanding how far a community has come and in what direction it’s going. Nevertheless, it is astounding the progress that Hancock County was able to make in just the couple of years following Hurricane Katrina. As it continues moving forward in the future, we at Market Street will continue rooting for them, and wishing them well in their efforts to increase their economic vitality, enhance their position as a community of choice, prepare a 21st Century workforce, and develop and support visionary leadership.