Agriculture first became well established in the early 19th century, when the combination of cheap land and high cotton prices induced widespread agricultural settlement. Numerous large plantations were established, using slave labor to produce mainly cotton. However, they were ruined by the American Civil War (1861-1865). After the Civil War, sharecropping developed as a chief form of land tenure. In modern times, agriculture and forestry have continued to be important.
In addition, Mississippi has undergone considerable industrialization. Since the 1930s the state has developed its resources of natural gas and petroleum, and TVA power has become available in the northeast. In 1936 Mississippi established a pioneering regional development promotion with its Balance Agriculture With Industry program. Manufacturing is now the principal economic activity in the state, in terms of value of production.
In 1965 industrial employment for the first time exceeded employment in agriculture. By the early 1990s the number of those working in manufacturing exceeded agricultural workers by five fold. Of the 1,224,000 workers in 2008, 35 percent worked in service industries such as restaurants and data processing centers; 18 percent in wholesale or retail trade; 21 percent in federal, state, or local government, including those in the military; 15 percent in manufacturing; 3 percent in farming (including agricultural services), forestry, or fishing; 5 percent in construction; 8 percent in finance, insurance, or real estate; 20 percent in transportation or public utilities; and 0.8 percent in mining. In 2007, 7 percent of Mississippi’s workers were members of labor unions. "Mississippi" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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