According to a new report by the Jesuit Social Research Institute of Loyola University in New Orleans, African-American workers make nearly 30 percent less than whites in Mississippi. Around 100,000 working families in the state are without health care.
The disturbing findings in the report made public on Thursday outline wage disparities among class, gender, and race.
"Growing income inequality has left low and middle class workers in Mississippi without wage increases since the Great Recession," said Father Fred Kammer, director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute. "While the highest earning workers have enjoyed significant growth in wages."
Along with statistics showing the poor in Mississippi indeed getting poorer in recent years, the report also found significant disparities in wages along racial lines.
"In 2015, African-American workers earned a median hourly wage that was $4.65 per hour, or 28 percent less than white workers," said lead researcher, Jeanie Donovan.
Donovan says many of the negative consequences outlined can be linked to inadequate education funding.
"If Mississippi does not take action to improve the educational outcomes and economic status of its working class, it will struggle to attract new and innovative businesses to the state and will continue to fall at the bottom of various socio-economic rankings," Donovan said.
Jeremy Eisler is with the Mississippi Center for Justice.
"Everything starts with education. And yet, in this state where we have established a mandatory adequate education program, we have not fully funded it for the last seven years. We're 1.2 billion dollars behind," Eisler said.
Elyshia Davis is a struggling single mother of three who can relate to much of what the report details. She says education is critical, along with another key ingredient.
"Health care. Because I work a job and I get a flat rate of $9, and I have no health care. So that means if I get sick, here's this big hospital bill behind all the other bills I have trying to provide for my family," said Davis.
Along with the negative consequences outlined in the report, it also contains a blueprint of suggestions for improvement.
Those include fully funding public education in Mississippi, expanding the Medicaid program and increasing the minimum wage.