Ingalls Shipbuilding

Why Mississippi’s 3.6% unemployment rate isn’t the full picture of what businesses are facing

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Why Mississippi’s 3.6% unemployment rate isn’t the full picture of what businesses are facing

— When announced plans this summer to hire more than 2,000 workers, they put perks up front: day-one benefits, 12 paid holidays, competitive pay. 

And don’t forget the on-site Chick-Fil-A. The company says it has invested nearly $1 billion in its local facility. 

“Attracting skilled workers is a top priority for Ingalls,” said spokesperson Kimberly Aguillard. “We are committed to finding and training the talent we need to build quality ships for our customers.” 

Mississippi businesses are learning they have to pull out all the stops if they want to attract and retain workers. Economic uncertainty is looming overhead, inflation has pushed up costs and businesses from restaurants to shipbuilders and business services are struggling to fill all their needed positions.

“Workforce is the single biggest issue we face in the state of Mississippi as a whole,” said Ashley Edwards, the president of the Gulf Coast Business Council. “That is certainly echoed in business leaders across the Coast. They are very concerned about, and very focused on, workforce questions and workforce challenges.”

Mississippi gained back the bulk of jobs it lost during the pandemic but those gains stalled out over the last few months. The state is still about 2,000 jobs short of where it was before the pandemic began, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Mississippi employment market has remained relatively flat over the last six months, without any major losses or gains. 

“Our has definitely slowed down along with the U.S.,” said state economist Corey Miller, referring to Mississippi. “But I don’t think we’re in a recession at present, but it’s still 50/50 if we will be in one within the next 12 months.” 

That uncertainty has businesses on edge as they struggle to hire new workers. Miller said for every one person hired in a job, there’s still 1.5 openings – a statistic he said is true in both Mississippi and nationwide. 

The state’s unemployment rate – now about 3.6% – has fallen to historic lows, but that’s not a full picture of what Mississippi businesses are facing. Economists say they still don’t have a great understanding of why people haven’t come back to the labor force entirely. 

“The labor force is still smaller than it was before the pandemic,” Miller said. “Some of those people who are no longer unemployed are not in the labor force and that’s a phenomenon we have seen across the country.”

Mississippi’s labor participation rate – the percentage of Mississippians working or looking for work – is about 55%, according to BLS data. That’s about where it was before the pandemic began. But it’s much lower than the national average of about 62%. 

“We want to dig into that more,” said Ryan Miller, the director of workforce development office Accelerate Mississippi. “Job rates are getting back to pre-COVID levels and yet we see labor participation rate, on the surface, could be better. We want to understand why and how we can move the needle.” 

Accelerate Mississippi plans to commission a study to better understand the gaps between unemployment and the labor participation rate.

Ryan Miller – no relation to the state economist – said another thing his office is tackling is the barriers that may be keeping people from entering the traditional workforce, such as child care. 

“What are the factors in the lives of Mississippains that are keeping them from engaging in the workforce?” he posed. “For specific population sectors, one of them being single mothers, they would probably love to participate in training (for a better job) but they can’t get the childcare and don’t have the latitude to participate.” 

Accelerate Mississippi is looking into how new programming could help, like creating non-traditional child care options for when workers are in training classes for in-demand skilled work. 

Experts largely agree the issue is more complex than the people simply don’t want to work anymore.

“There are probably folks who would rather not work,” said Miller, whose focus is getting more Missisippians in good-paying jobs to raise the state’s average wages. “But I think there are more Mississippians who if given the opportunity to the pathway to … have an opportunity to grow a skill, a chance for advancement, they’d take that.” 

Jobs in accommodations and food services are slowly building back to pre-pandemic numbers, but restaurants are not only dealing with the inability to find workers but increased costs from inflation. The Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association says 55% of operators surveyed reported their businesses are understaffed and they do not not have enough employees to support demand. 

The same survey found 79% of Mississippi restaurants say they’re less profitable now than they were in 2019. 

The shortages have pushed up some pay for workers. But when looking at wages Mississippi-wide, the state economist predicts most gains will be a wash due to inflation. 

Edwards, with the Gulf Coast Business Council, said business leaders are focusing their attention on recruitment efforts. Those needs will only be amplified as more baby boomers exit the workforce, Edwards said. 

The pandemic spurred what many call “the Great Resignation,” where time off from work made many realize they wanted to start new careers, find a better work-life balance, or retire.

“Businesses are still coming to terms with the shift,” Edwards said.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Ingalls Shipbuilding holds keel authentication ceremony

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www.wxxv25.com – Ansley Brent – 2022-08-16 17:42:58

A hero is being remembered in as hosts a keel authentication ceremony for the new Arleigh-burke class destroyer.

A new destroyer being built at Ingalls Shipbuilding will carry the name and the legacy of one of the Navy’s own.

Family, friends, constituents, and fellow senators gathered for the keel authentication ceremony for the Arleigh-burke class guided missile destroyer Jeremiah Denton.

The DDG 129 is named in honor of the former U.S. senator and Navy veteran. He was a Vietnam War veteran who was awarded the Navy Cross for heroism…

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Senate passes anti-vaccine mandate bill

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Senate passes anti-vaccine mandate bill

The Senate after much debate — and efforts to make the measure stronger — passed a House bill to prohibit private companies and Mississippi governments from requiring vaccination of employees over their “sincerely held religious objections.”

But the Senate added a change to the bill to ensure more debate and scrutiny before it could be sent to the governor and signed into law. This was out of fear that the measure could jeopardize federal funding for state universities.

The Senate passed House Bill 1509 on a 36-15, party line vote with Republicans in favor. The bill, authored by Republican Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, passed the House in a mostly party line vote in January.

“The Senate passed a strong, conservative bill which protects employees and children attending school in Mississippi from a COVID-19 vaccine mandate,” said Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann. “I personally support a broader bill providing a religious exemption for vaccine requirements for schools and will support that provision when it is properly before the Senate.”

READ MORE: House passes anti-vaccine mandate bill

Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, offered an amendment to provide such a broad exemption from any vaccine requirements, not just COVID-19. But a point of order was raised that the original bill applied only to COVID-19 and his amendment was too expansive. Hosemann ruled it was too expansive an amendment. McDaniel took the unusual step of appealing Hosemann’s ruling to the full Senate, which voted 34-16 to uphold Hosemann’s ruling.

“This may not seem like a issue, but it is a civil rights issue — the right of people to control what goes into their body,” McDaniel said.

A group of supporters of the vaccine mandate ban packed the Senate gallery, and had to be warned twice by Hosemann to stop cheering when lawmakers made anti-vaccine mandate statements.

Sen. Chad McMahan, R-Tupelo, offered an unsuccessful amendment to allow a medical-condition exemption to any vaccine mandate. Although his amendment failed, he was assured that is already in state law.

“We’re here today because the federal government overstepped its authority to tell people they have to take an experimental vaccine,” McMahan said.

Sen. Brice Wiggins, R-, told his colleagues he represents “ground zero” for vaccine mandates, with in his district. The shipyard enacted a vaccine mandate, but later suspended it as 20% of its 11,500 employees faced termination for not being vaccinated.

“Those employees shouldn’t be put in the position at all,” Wiggins said.

But Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson, questioned whether the bill could jeopardize community health.

“So the rights of the individual trump the rights of society?” Horhn said, drawing a loud cheer from supporters of the bill in the gallery. “Their rights are going to trump the safety of a whole city, whole community or the whole state? By pushing individual rights, we could be putting a lot of people at risk.”

“That’s a risk we’re willing to take for protecting individual rights,” said Sen. Dennis DeBar, R-Leakesville.

But DeBar successfully added a “reverse repealer” amendment to the measure to provide more time to scrutinize the bill and make sure it doesn’t “jeopardize federal funds for IHL.” This means the House and Senate would have to vote on the measure again before it could be signed into law.

The bill is a response to a battle raging since last year between those opposed to various COVID-19 vaccine mandates issued by . Some of those mandates have been upheld by the federal courts while others have not.

Besides exempting employees of private businesses from the vaccine mandate, it also would prohibit state and local governmental entities from forcing a vaccine mandate on their employees and would prohibit those entities from withholding services from people who have chosen not to be vaccinated.

The bill would also apply to the National Guard. The U.S. Department of Defense has mandated a vaccine mandate for members of the National Guard. That issue is in the federal courts.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Ingalls Shipbuilding holds Keel Authentication Ceremony for Ted Stevens DDG 128

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www.wxxv25.com – Janae Jordan – 2022-03-09 17:43:11

hosted a keel authentication ceremony for the Ted Stevens DDG 128.

To formally mark the start of the construction on the Arleigh-Burke Class guided missile destroyer Ted Stevens, DDG 128, a keel laying ceremony took place with the family of former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens. DDG 51 Program Manager John Fillmore said, “As much as he devoted his life to public service, over 40 years as a senator, a lot of…

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Mississippi House passes anti-vaccine mandate bill

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House passes anti-vaccine mandate bill

The Mississippi House unexpectedly took up and passed legislation Thursday that would prevent private companies from forcing their employees to get a vaccination over “sincerely held religious objections.”

The bill, authored by House Speaker Philip Gunn, is a response to a battle currently raging between those opposed to various COVID-19 vaccine mandates issued by . Some of those mandates have been upheld by the federal courts while others have not.

The bill passed 74-41 with all Democrats except Rep. Tom Miles of Forest no.

Besides exempting employees of private businesses from the vaccine mandate, it also would prohibit state and local governmental entities from forcing a vaccine mandate on their employees and would prohibit those entities from withholding services from people who have chosen not to be vaccinated.

The bill also would apply to the National Guard. The U.S. Department of Defense has mandated a vaccine mandate for members of the National Guard. That issue currently is in the federal courts.

There was lengthy, at times terse, debate on the bill and House Public Health Chairman Sam Mims, R-McComb, had to field many questions.

“I don’t see where this bill defines sincerely held religious beliefs,” said Rep. Shanda Yates, I-Jackson. “… Or who has the burden of proof, employees or employer? So we’re opening up all our employers to lawsuits. Our pro-business, Republican-led supermajority is going after our private businesses.”

“Would this apply to the Mississippi National Guard?” Rep. Ed Blackmon, D-Canton, asked, to which the answer was yes.

Rep. Thomas Reynolds, D-Charleston, said that George Washington in 1777 ordered Continental troops be vaccinated for smallpox that was raging through the country at the time. “There is a precedent for vaccination in our National Guard,” Reynolds said.

Mims said, “We are giving religious liberty to our public and private employees in Mississippi … It will be up to that employer to verify that employee’s sincerity.”

Rep. Percy Watson, D-Hattiesburg, said, “Maybe I missed something. We are still in a pandemic, aren’t we?”

Rep. John Hines, D-Greenville, after the vote said: “So, we’ve said that a business doesn’t have to serve someone if they are LGBTQ, doesn’t have to bake them a cake or anything if they don’t want to. But with this we’re telling them they have to serve or employ someone? I guess they just pick and choose who has liberty or rights.”

Hines was referring to a bill passed in 2016 that allowed entities not to provide services based on religious reasons.

It is not clear what the impact of the legislation will be. Most of the vaccine mandates proposed by the president have included religious exceptions or an opportunity for people who choose not to be vaccinated to undergo regular testing for COVID-19. And few if any governmental entities in the state have imposed vaccine mandates.

It also is unclear how many Mississippi companies, such as on the Gulf Coast, would be impacted by the legislation if the president ultimately prevails in the courts on his mandate that companies and entities that receive federal funds require its employees to be vaccinated.

The bill could place Ingalls, which is dependent on federal contracts, in a precarious situation of having to choose to obey state or federal mandates.

Mims said the legislation would not ease the multiple vaccine mandates currently in state law for students both in secondary schools and in colleges and universities.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro visits Ingalls Shipbuilding for tour

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www.wxxv25.com – Rick Gogreve – 2022-01-26 21:27:56

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro joined today for a shipyard tour.

Along with Del Toro was U.S. Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith and U.S. Representative Steven Palazzo.

This tour featured three ships, the amphib ship LPD 29 and two destroyer ships DDG 125 and DDG 1002.

Del Toro was also given updates on infrastructure projects as well as an overview of shipbuilding programs on the…

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First Ingalls Shipbuilding Hiring Center opens at the Edgewater Mall

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www.wxxv25.com – Sabria Reid – 2022-01-06 21:27:06

For the first time, an hiring center opened on the Coast.

With over 3,000 positions available for trade workers with no experience, Ingalls Shipbuilding now has a new hiring location that is more convenient for residents.

Open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., their first hiring center opened in Edgewater Mall.

The largest manufacturing employer in the state of Mississippi, Ingalls…

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Ingalls Shipbuilding suspends vaccination deadline

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www.wxxv25.com – WXXV Staff – 2021-11-17 14:36:03

Ingalls employees were sent a letter stating Huntington Ingalls Industries is “suspending the deadline for vaccination, except where specific technical solutions contracts require it.”

Employees at the Shipyard originally faced a December 8th deadline to be fully vaccinated, but that was recently pushed back to…

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Widow of Ingalls Shipbuilding worker speaks about his death

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2021-11-04 22:14:24, 1636082064

Widow of worker speaks about his .

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First woman promoted to president of Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula

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2021-03-06 18:23:07, 1615076587

First woman promoted to president of in .

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