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Economic growth slows in Mississippi in 2013

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — New figures show that Mississippi's economy grew in 2013 but slowed markedly from the year before.

Gross domestic product numbers released Wednesday by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis try to measure all of the economic output of each state.

Mississippi's 2013 growth rate of by 1.6 percent was below the national average of 1.8 percent, and ranked 29th among the 50 states. For 2012, figures were revised upward to show that Mississippi's economy expanded by 3.5 percent, the best in the Southeast and one of the best in the nation.

"It's a little bit lower than we were thinking but not significantly so," said state economist Darrin Webb said of the 2013 growth rate. "We kind of figured that 2013 was going to be a slowdown year."

Webb did say he was taken off guard by the upward change in the 2012 growth rate. It was one of only four times in the last 15 years that Mississippi's economy has grown faster than the nation. Other years included 2003, 2007 and 2008.

The biggest contributors to growth in Mississippi last year came from agriculture, construction and making nondurable goods such as petrochemicals. Construction of Mississippi Power Co.'s $5.2 billion Kemper County power plant and work on Chevron Corp.'s Pascagoula refinery were among big projects boosting construction last year. Mississippi farmers had a productive year, with high yields of corn, soybeans and cotton.

The biggest drags on the state's economy were decreased output from oil and gas exploration and government. Oil and gas exploration's contribution to the economy can vary with prices. Webb said that many local governments are still struggling to make up revenue lost in the recession.

Mississippi retained the lowest per-capita gross domestic product of any state, at $32,421 per person. That number is a measure of the general wealth of the economy, but is not a measure of actual wages or incomes.

Though the state's $105 billion economy slowed, Mississippi matched the Southeast region's growth. It outperformed Louisiana's 1.3 percent growth, Alabama's 0.8 percent growth and Tennessee's 0.8 percent growth. Arkansas surpassed Mississippi, though, growing 2.4 percent.

North Dakota's oil boom pushed it to 9.7 percent growth, the fastest in the nation, while Alaska's economy was the only one to contract, shrinking 2.5 percent as oil production trailed off there.

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Online: State economic growth: http://1.usa.gov/SNxFxd

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Follow Jeff Amy at http://twitter.com/jeffamy

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