CATEGORY: COL Columns (Journal)

AUTHOR: CUMMIN

HED:John Cummins: Where's the money in Mississippi?

According to recent figures compiled by the Commerce Department, Mississippi is dead last in per capita personal income for 1997. According to the figures compiled by The Associated Press, Mississippi's average income was $18,272. The state was more than $600 behind West Virginia, the state ranked 49th in the income survey.

Neighboring states fared much better. Alabama, ranked 38th in the survey, had an average per capita income of $20,842. Louisiana, ranked 40th, had an average income of $20,680. Tennessee ranked 33rd on the list, with an average income of $23,656.

Another piece of information about per capita personal incomes also crossed my desk only a week ago - per capita personal income for each of the state's counties. It was also compiled by our federal government number-crunchers at the Commerce Department.

Here's the catch, however. It refers to 1996 personal incomes, since county data is always two years behind, compared to one year behind with state data.

The good news? Lee County had a 1996 per capita income of $20,999, the fourth-highest figure in the state. Rankin County was third, with a per capita personal income of $21,332, while DeSoto County was second with an average of $21,671.

Hinds County had the highest average income in the state during 1996, at $21,885.

In Northeast Mississippi, Alcorn County followed Lee County at $17,130, followed by Union County at $17,115.

The counties in the region with the lowest per capita incomes were Benton at $13,190 and Prentiss at $14, 764. Look at our charts to your left to see how other counties in Northeast Mississippi fared.

Good food revisited

I can't say I wasn't warned. My boss, said I'd better be prepared for criticism if I dared to suggest my favorite restaurants in my column. And it came.

Typical of my phone calls were conversations like this:

Hello?

"You the fat guy who thinks he knows good restaurants? That wrote that thing in the paper?"

Well, yeah, I wrote that but it was a column: only my opinion, you see...

"You stink. Haven't you eaten at Bubba's in Snide Gulch? It's the best durn bar-b-que you'll ever try. Everyone knows that, fool." (faint voice from the same side of the line-"Bubba, put your shower shoes on and grab a pot of water-the okra's on fire again!")

Well, I'll try to make it to Bubb-

"Don't bother. You stink, ya fat jerk." Click.

Well, as I've explained, this was a column, a piece of my own opinion and not one endorsed by the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. So please, Miss Dixie in Corinth, accept my humble apologies for acting like an editor for Bon Appetit. I assure you I'm not trying to run off all our restaurant advertisers.

And to our other readers who called in with many suggestions of fine catfish eating, I plan to try out every suggestion I received, and put the best place I've found in a future column.

That's what us fat jerks like to do.

John Cummins is business editor at the Daily Journal.

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