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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)-  When you hear statistics about the number of people working in the state, it can be difficult to understand the numbers or why they are important.

MSU, with the help from state and local legislatures, and the department of employment security are using those numbers to help create more jobs.

Data, it can be overwhelming. However, all that data has the potential for something bigger.

“Today is the first ever, data summit in the state of Mississippi and it is designed to make policy makers aware of the sources of reliable data that they can use to make sound decisions,” says coordinator Jack Henry.

Henry says there’s plenty of data out there, the real question is how reliable is that data?

He believes talking about the importance of getting those numbers can help in a number of areas, including education.

“A community college for example could look and see if their training course, let’s say in welding, is really working. They could look and determine how many people who take their course have jobs as welders within the next five years, they could determine what their salary is as a welder, they could compare the salary after the training with the salary before the training, to see whether the training that the community college provide actually made their students more marketable in the labor market,” says Henry.

Henry says this will improve the quality of students’ education and lawmakers agree.

“We wanna make sure that we’re only investing those programs that are working and we also wanna make sure that we’re investing in things that are gonna make Mississippi to be a better place long term, to raise a family and to also to invest capital and create jobs,” says Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves.

Reeves was one of the keynote speakers.

“It’s a relatively new phenomenon in Jackson but it’s something that’s very important. My background is in economics and finance, and I made lots and lots of investment decisions over my life based upon information and data and so they’re doing a great job here at Mississippi State University,” says Reeves.

MSU collects data from state agencies, private sectors and other entities. Reeves says data research has helped the state department of education.

“We’re making tremendous progress, we’re seeing significant improvements in K-12 graduation rates for instance, when we first came in five years ago, Mississippi was graduating kids at a rate of about 70 point five percent, today it’s over 80 percent,” says Reeves.

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