Jobs to Move America
Get Updates Donate


JMA: Rob Yen

Report: Job Quality and Community Challenges Persist in Alabama and Mississippi Manufacturing Facilities

Jackson, MS, February 24, 2023 – A new report finds that job quality is low and work-life balance is virtually nonexistent for many employees of manufacturing facilities in Alabama and Mississippi. Job quality was assessed by analyzing data from over 1,300 employee survey responses across the two-state region’s manufacturing sector. These findings are included in Job Quality and Community Well-being in Mississippi and Alabama’s Manufacturing Facilities released today from Alabama A&M University. It is available at

“As demonstrated in the various case studies that are portrayed in this report, key indicators of job quality all point to the low-quality jobs held by many Southern manufacturing workers,” said Berneece S. Herbert, PhD, Jackson State University, who co-authored the report with Emily Erickson, PhD, University of Warwick. “These dimensions [of job quality] included pay and benefits, terms of employment, work-life balance, health and safety, representation and voice, and intrinsic characteristics,” Herbert adds. 

“The data behind the report analysis shows the need to improve job quality in Southern manufacturing facilities. We need to create a path forward in bettering these conditions and opportunities in the South by building coalitions composed of residents, workers, and community leaders to help influence policy makers to enact transformative changes,” said Jobs to Move America Co-Executive Director Erica Iheme. “One solution for these coalitions is to call for the adoption of Community Benefits Agreements, like the one with New Flyer,” added Iheme.

Job Quality and Community Well-being in Mississippi and Alabama’s Manufacturing Facilities is an analysis of manufacturing work in the heart of the manufacturing sector’s new economic geography of production in the American South. Key takeaways include:

  • Average reported pay is decent, and these jobs are often some of the best paid in the region. However, significant racial wage gaps are reported, and averages still do not meet what is considered needed to support a family.
  • Although most jobs are permanent positions, very few respondents reported opportunities for upward career mobility.
  • Work-life balance is virtually nonexistent for many respondents who put in long shifts with highly variable and difficulty to predict schedules.
  • High rates of serious injury and reports of racially hostile and sexually harassing work environments are reported.
  • Fear of retaliation from employers prevents workers from using their voice and speaking up to improve practices or report workplace issues.
  • Many workers express pride in their work but this pride is tempered by stories of unfair or mistreatment by their employers.

“During the 20th century, high quality manufacturing jobs uplifted workers, families, and entire communities. If residents and public officials intentionally support policies that upgrade job quality and overall community economic development and prosperity, this can happen in the 21st century as well,” added Erickson.

The report was commissioned with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the nonprofit jobs policy advocacy organization, Jobs to Move America. Jobs to Move America encourages Mississippi residents to reach out if they want to learn more about improving jobs and the community.

About Jobs to Move America (

Jobs to Move America is a strategic policy center that works to transform public spending and corporate behavior using a comprehensive approach that is rooted in racial and economic justice and community organizing. We seek to advance a fair and prosperous economy with good jobs and healthier communities for all.

Associated Resources

Alabama Team Fact Sheet

 Our coalition in Alabama and New Flyer, the largest electric bus manufacturer in North America, signed our Community Benefits Agreement on May 24, 2022. This is our first multi-state agreement, impacting New Flyer facilities in Anniston, AL and Ontario, CA. It supports the creation of robust manufacturing jobs through investments in workforce development and training …