Mississippi First Accountability Campaign


In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many local people were left out of the employment opportunities to cleanup and rebuild their communities. FEMA and Army Corp of Engineers entered into no-bid contracts with several large out of state firms who then sub-contracted the work to other out of state firms who then sub-contracted the work out even further. By the time the money and jobs trickled down, there was little money and opportunity left for local people. Thus after the BP Oil Spill disaster, many non-profit and community organizations, including the Steps Coalition, organized to pass local hiring legislation to ensure that locals would be in a better position to benefit from the economic opportunities of recovery for this disaster and all future disasters.

The Mississippi Jobs First law passed in 2012.  The law requires contractors receiving bids for public works projects funded using disaster recovery monies to first consider hiring local employees referred by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES). In addition, MDES is required to report important hiring data and job trends to the state legislature annually.


Following the passage of the law, Steps and Hijra House partnered to educate local contractors and construction workers about the new law and provide them with the assistance they needed to better position themselves for the opportunities to come.  The education campaign specifically targeted low-income, minority individuals.  Since then, our work has expanded to also include an assessment of the effectiveness of the law. 

Based on our research, there are three important key findings.  The first is that the law by design does not measure whether local residents are being hired and thus, it is difficult to determine how effective the law is.  Second, the law is not being implemented at every level.  Lastly, the law by design lacks any mechanisms for enforcement. Click here to read our final report and our recommendations for improving the effectiveness of the law.


1) Help us get the word out about the Mississippi Jobs First Law:  Contractors and job seekers must register with the Mississippi Department of Employment Security to be considered for Restoration Work.  You can register online or visit a WIN Center near you. Contractors must also submit an employment plan with MDES.  The employment plan may be required when submitting the bid or after the contract is awarded. Visit www.mdes.ms.gov for more information.

2) If you are a contractor, please consider taking this brief (less than 10 minutes) workforce survey

To learn more about the BP Oil Spill Disaster Restoration and Recovery, visit http://www.restore.ms

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Steps Coalition
610 Water Street, Biloxi, MS 39530
(228) 435-3113

Economic Justice | Environmental Justice | Affordable Housing | Preservation of Historical Communities | Human Rights