State economist Darrin Webb says government is currently Mississippi's largest employer. That's a big change from 20 years ago, when manufacturing held the top spot in the state.
Webb says Mississippi lost manufacturing jobs after the North American Free Trade Agreement was put in place in the 1990s.
Webb told House Appropriations Committee Tuesday that total employment in Mississippi grew 1.6 percent in 2013. That's the largest growth rate since 1999.
He says 53 counties gained jobs from 2012 to 2013, and 29 counties lost them. The biggest gains were in DeSoto County, which added 2,605 jobs, and Kemper County, which added 1,684.
Kemper is not typically among the more robust counties, but Webb says construction of a Mississippi Power Co. plant spurred the growth.