The Economy of Jackson, Mississippi

An Overview of Business, Industry, and Economic Drivers in the Capital City

Jackson, Mississippi is the state capital and the most populous city in Mississippi with a population of over 160,000 residents. As the capital, Jackson is home to many government agencies and offices that employ thousands of workers and drive economic activity. However, Jackson has a diversified economy that extends well beyond government. Here is an overview of the key industries, major employers, and economic drivers in Jackson.

Major Employers

The largest employers in Jackson reflect the diversity of the city’s economy:

  • State of Mississippi government – Over 30,000 people work in state government agencies and offices located in downtown Jackson. Major employers include the Department of Health, Department of Public Safety, Department of Education, Department of Environmental Quality, and many more.
  • Jackson Public School District – The public school system employs approximately 4,500 people in roles ranging from teachers and administrators to maintenance, food service, and transportation workers.
  • University of Mississippi Medical Center – Mississippi’s only academic medical center and health sciences campus employs over 10,000 people. The medical center serves as a teaching hospital, conducts medical research, and provides care to patients from across the state.
  • Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi – The health insurance company headquartered in Jackson employs approximately 3,000 people.
  • Siemens – This German conglomerate has a major production facility in Jackson manufacturing gas turbines and other power generation equipment. The plant employs around 1,200 people.
  • Nissan – The Japanese automaker operates a vehicle assembly plant in nearby Canton that employs over 6,000 people, some of whom live and work in Jackson.

Key Industries and Businesses

In addition to major employers, there are several key industries that drive Jackson’s economy:


The healthcare industry is a major economic engine in Jackson. The University of Mississippi Medical Center is the cornerstone, supported by a network of hospitals, clinics, medical practices, and healthcare providers employing thousands in total. Blue Cross Blue Shield’s presence supports this sector as well.


Manufacturing remains an important industry in Jackson. Siemens’ plant produces gas turbines for power plants. Nissan’s huge assembly plant makes hundreds of thousands of vehicles annually.

Other manufacturers with facilities in Jackson include Ergon, Inc. (oil refinery), Arizona Chemical (pine chemicals), Baxter Healthcare (medical devices), Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation, and more. Approximately 16,000 people work in manufacturing in the Jackson metro area.

Finance and Insurance

Jackson is home to the headquarters of several major banks and insurance providers that drive the finance and insurance industry in the city. Some of the major players include:

  • BankPlus
  • Trustmark Bank
  • Regions Financial Corporation
  • Liberty Mutual Insurance
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi
  • American General Life Insurance Company


As the state capital, Jackson has a major government presence. In addition to state government agencies, Jackson is home to federal agencies like the FBI and IRS that maintain field offices in the city. Government administration, public service, and regulatory activities account for tens of thousands of jobs in Jackson.


Although not as prominent as some other industries, Jackson has a growing technology sector. Mobile communications company C Spire is headquartered in the city and has over 1,000 employees. Other tech companies with offices in Jackson include FNC, Inc., ERG Enterprises, and Vertiv.

Distribution and Logistics

Jackson’s location at a highway intersection makes it an important hub for distribution and logistics operations.

Major distribution centers and warehousing facilities are operated by companies like Dollar General, Orgill, UPS, and Sysco in the Jackson area. The Port of Jackson on the Pearl River also supports inbound and outbound shipping activity.

Recent Economic Trends

Over the past decade, Jackson’s economy has faced some challenges but also has some positives:

  • Population decline – Jackson’s population has declined by over 25,000 residents since 2000, decreasing the metro area’s economic base. Surrounding suburbs have grown faster than the city itself.
  • Unemployment – The unemployment rate in Jackson typically trends a few percentage points above the national average. It peaked at 10% during the Great Recession and remains over 6% today.
  • Poverty – Approximately 25% of Jackson residents live below the poverty line as of 2021. The poverty rate is improving but remains above state and national averages.
  • Business growth in suburbs – New business and residential growth has been more robust in nearby suburbs like Madison, Brandon, Pearl, and Canton in recent years. Jackson is left with an eroding tax base.
  • Downtown growth – Downtown Jackson has seen increasing investment and new developments like the Westin Hotel, the District at Eastover, the Two Mississippi Museums, and more. These support economic activity in the urban core.

Overall, Jackson has a diverse economic base but faces headwinds like population decline and urban poverty. Strategic investments and policies may help strengthen Jackson’s economy in the years ahead.

Key Sites and Institutions Supporting Jackson’s Economy

In addition to businesses, there are a number of important sites, facilities, and institutions that drive economic activity and development in Jackson.

Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport

Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport (JAN) is the main commercial airport serving central Mississippi. It provides national and international air connections for both passenger and cargo traffic.

The airport handles over 1 million passengers annually on major carriers like American, Delta, and United. The airport is currently undergoing a major $60 million renovation and expansion of its terminal facilities.

Port of Jackson

Located on the Pearl River, the Port of Jackson provides shipping access between Jackson businesses and the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River.

Operated by the Jackson Redevelopment Authority, the port has public marine terminals for barges carrying bulk cargo like gravel, petroleum, and agricultural products. Around 500 vessels utilize the port each year.

Mississippi Farmers Market

The state of Mississippi operates a 75-acre farmers market facility in Jackson that allows local agricultural producers to sell fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, and other products direct to consumers.

The market generates millions in revenues for farmers and provides fresh local produce for Jackson residents while supporting economic activity.

Mississippi Coliseum and Fairgrounds

This 150,000 square foot arena and fairground facility in downtown Jackson hosts major concerts, events, trade shows, and the Mississippi State Fair annually.

Upcoming renovations totaling $60 million will revitalize the facilities to continue drawing large crowds and visitor spending.

Central Mississippi Medical Center

In addition to the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Central Mississippi Medical Center is a leading hospital in Jackson that serves as a regional referral center providing care across 37 medical specialties.

The nonprofit medical center reinvests revenue back into the city and employs over 2,800 staff.

Jackson Convention Complex

The Jackson Convention Complex provides over 100,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space in a modern facility downtown.

It draws regional conferences and meetings that support hospitality and tourism in the city. Upcoming expansion plans will increase capacity to attract more major events.

Jackson State University

Jackson State University is a public historically black university located in Jackson with over 7,000 students. The university is a major employer providing jobs for thousands of faculty and staff. It also drives economic activity through its institutional and visitor spending.

Small Businesses and Entrepreneurship in Jackson

Small businesses are the backbone of Jackson’s economy. The metro area is home to over 14,000 small businesses that each employ less than 100 workers.

Here are some of the major small business sectors and local entrepreneurial assets that help small companies start and grow in Jackson:

Major Small Business Sectors

  • Professional Services – Law firms, accounting practices, marketing agencies, IT consultancies, healthcare providers and other professional services firms represent a major share of Jackson’s small businesses.
  • Construction – Plumbers, electricians, contractors, carpenters, and specialized tradespeople make up many of the metro area’s small construction businesses.
  • Retail – Independent shops, boutiques, galleries, bookstores, cafes, restaurants, and other retailers line the streets of Jackson’s commercial districts.
  • Auto Repair and Services – Local garages and body shops provide repair and maintenance services to Jackson’s thousands of resident car owners.
  • Personal Services – Barbershops, salons, gyms, laundromats, tailors, pet services, and similar businesses attend to the daily needs of Jacksonians.

Support for Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses

Jackson has a number of resources aimed at fostering local entrepreneurs and helping small businesses succeed:

  • Jackson State University Mississippi Small Business Development Center – Part of a national network, JSU’s SBDC provides free advising and technical assistance to small businesses in the area.
  • Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership – The local chamber provides training, networking events, business advocacy and other support to its member small businesses.
  • JacksonState Community Business Incubator – Caters to minority-owned startups and provides low-cost office space and business support services.
  • The WIN Fund – A Community Development Financial Institution that offers loans between $500-$50,000 to small businesses in central Mississippi.

Major Infrastructure Supporting Economic Growth

Jackson’s roads, bridges, rail lines, utilities, and telecommunications infrastructure are critical for supporting business and enabling economic growth across the metro region. Here are some of the key infrastructure assets powering Jackson’s economy:

Interstate Highways

  • I-20 – Runs east-west through the metro area connecting Jackson to Memphis and Atlanta. A major thoroughfare for transport and distribution.
  • I-55 – North-south highway that connects Jackson to New Orleans, St. Louis and Chicago. Serves as a major trucking route.
  • I-220 – Orbital highway providing access between downtown Jackson and surrounding suburbs. Eases commuter traffic.

Rail Infrastructure

  • Canadian National Railway – Operates north-south and east-west rail lines through the city hauling freight to national destinations.
  • Amtrak – Passenger rail service on the City of New Orleans line provides a transit link to Chicago and New Orleans.

Jackson-Evers International Airport

  • Runway recently lengthened to over 9,000 feet to enable larger aircraft and international flights.
  • $60 million terminal expansion underway, increasing capacity to over 1.5 million passengers annually.

Water, Sewer, Electric Service

  • Jackson municipal utilities provide reliable, competitively priced electric, water, and sewer service supporting homes and businesses.
  • Additional power provided by Entergy Mississippi and Mississippi Power utilities.


  • AT&T, CSpire and other providers offer broadband internet, business data services, and state-of-the-art telecom connectivity.
  • 90% of Jackson households have broadband internet access.
  • City is exploring partnerships to provide municipal broadband.

This strong foundation of infrastructure across transportation, utilities, and internet access supports economic activity and growth in Jackson. Continued infrastructure investment will be needed to maintain Jackson’s competitive advantage.

Real Estate and Development Outlook

Real estate is a major economic sector in any city, and development of new and rehabilitated properties can support growth. Here is an overview of recent trends shaping Jackson’s real estate market and discussion of future opportunities:

Recent Real Estate Trends

  • New downtown development – Over $400 million recently invested in downtown hotels, office buildings, apartments, and entertainment venues. Brings growth to the urban core.
  • Suburban expansion – Ongoing residential and commercial developments in suburbs like Madison, Pearl, Brandon, and Ridgeland capture much of metro’s growth.
  • Affordable housing shortage – Jackson has a major shortage of affordable workforce housing. Teachers, police, nurses and other workers struggle to find homes.
  • Industrial space oversupply – High industrial vacancy rates indicate excess manufacturing and warehouse space relative to demand.

Future Opportunities

  • Hotel/convention development – Upcoming convention center expansion presents opportunities for new hotels and related development downtown.
  • Infill development – Further build-out of surface parking lots and vacant parcels in the urban core with mixed-use projects.
  • Neighborhood revitalization – Rehabbing Jackson’s historic but deteriorated neighborhoods near downtown into affordable housing.
  • Suburban build-to-suit – Developing custom facilities for corporations relocating to the metro on vacant suburban land.
  • Spec warehouse development – Adding new distribution and logistics facilities speculatively along highways and near airport.

Strategic real estate investments supporting job growth while meeting local housing needs can strengthen Jackson’s economic trajectory.

Promoting Equity and Inclusion in Jackson’s Economy

As Jackson works to foster an even stronger, more resilient economy, ensuring equity and inclusion for all residents will be critical. Some initiatives that can promote more broadly shared prosperity include:

  • Support minority entrepreneurship and small business growth through technical training programs.
  • Connect disadvantaged communities to career training and job opportunities in high-growth fields.
  • Improve public transit access so all residents can get to workplaces across the metro area.
  • Develop affordable housing, particularly near downtown/employment hubs, through incentives and partnerships.
  • Provide need-based scholarships and vocational training to open doors to college.
  • Support employee-owned businesses and cooperatives to spread profits and ownership.
  • Anchor major developments with Community Benefits Agreements to provide neighborhood benefits.
  • Create hiring/procurement programs at hospitals, universities and major employers that engage disadvantaged vendors/workers.
  • Connect returning citizens with social enterprises providing transitional jobs and skills training.

With inclusive economic development policies like these, Jackson can grow its economy while lifting up disadvantaged groups and creating more widely shared prosperity for all.


While facing challenges like population decline and urban poverty, Jackson benefits from a diverse economic base spanning healthcare, manufacturing, finance, government, and other key industries.

Major institutions like UMMC and JSU drive employment and investment in the city. Small businesses, entrepreneurs, and real estate developers are creating new opportunities. And accommodating infrastructure provides Jackson the assets needed to support growth.

Continued efforts to invest in downtown, attract new employers, support local enterprise, and promote inclusive development can position Jackson to nurture an even more robust, resilient and equitable economy in the years ahead.

The Capital City has strong economic assets and fundamentals, and can become an engine of prosperity for all its citizens with proactive economic development policies and leadership.

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  • Start out heading southeast on I-55 S toward Jackson. Take exit 98B toward MS-18/Adams St/US-51. Keep left to stay on Exit 98B and merge onto US-51 S/Adams St. Turn right onto Northview Dr. The destination will be on your right. Your route is 6.6 miles total.
  • Begin on East County Line Road heading south. Turn right to merge onto I-20 West toward Jackson. Take exit 50A towards I-55 South/Brookhaven. Merge onto I-55 South and travel for around 4 miles. Take exit 98B for US-51 S/Adams St and keep left to continue on exit 98B. Merge onto US-51 S/Adams St and go for 1.5 miles. Make a right onto Northview Dr and your destination will be on the right just past Kilburn Ave. You will travel 11 miles total.
  • Start out on State St in downtown Jackson heading north. Turn right onto Pearl St and continue for half a mile. Take the ramp onto I-55 North. Drive for around 2 miles then take exit 100 for Briarwood Dr toward US 51/Northside Dr. Turn left onto Briarwood Dr then quickly turn right onto Northside Dr. After a third of a mile, turn left onto Northview Dr. 3829 Northview Dr will be on your right after passing Kilburn Ave. Your total travel distance is approximately 5 miles.