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Jobless rate stays low here

With considerable drops in all area counties, July unemploymenttotals present a more accurate description of the southwestMississippi jobless picture, said officials with theBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce.

Totals from the Mississippi Employment Security Commission(MESC) show Lincoln County with a 1.6 percentage point drop to 5.3percent in July. With the rate, the county continued to have thesecond-lowest rate in the area.

“May and June numbers are always skewed by the number ofstudents coming into the work force looking for summer jobs,” saidChandler Russ, chamber executive vice-president.

Lincoln County’s July jobless total placed it at number 26 inthe state, tying it with Neshoba County.

Russ said the county’s civilian labor force shrunk from 14,730in June to 14,650 in July. In job-related totals, 210 people werelisted as moving off unemployment as a result of either finding ajob or not finding one and no longer looking.

“That’s a good growth number,” Russ said.

For prospective industries concerned about availability oflabor, Russ said there are 168,000 people in a 30-mile radius ofBrookhaven. Of those, 79,270 are in the civilian labor force and5,800 are listed as unemployed.

Numbers not reflected in job totals, Russ said, are people whoare employed but want to be considered for a better job. Also notreflected are those people willing to commute to work, thus makingthe job applicant pool even larger, Russ said.

Lincoln County’s rate was second-lowest to Amite County’s 4.9percent. That rate was down 1.4 percent for July.

Also down 1.4 and ranking third in the area was Pike County. Itsrate was 6.6 percent in July.

Some other area counties also posted good jobless rate results.Copiah County’s rate was down 1.2 points to 8.3 percent, andWalthall County’s rate fell 1.6 points to 10.4 percent in July.

Several counties saw declines of more than two percentagepoints.

Lawrence County unemployment fell 2.8 points. Its rate, though,was still in double digits at 11.4 percent.

To the west in Franklin County, joblessness was down 2.2percentage points to 7.9 percent.

July represented more of the same for Jefferson County. Despitea big 4.8-point drop, its rate was still the highest in the stateat 19.9 percent.

The statewide rate dropped more than one percentage point from 7percent in June to 5.9 percent in July. The national rate in Julywas 4.2 percent.

MESC officials attributed the state drop to the job marketabsorbing summer job seekers and causing employed totals to rise.Moderate unemployment drops were seen in most counties, and 32counties had rates below the state average, officials said.

At 2.7 percent, DeSoto County had the lowest rate in the state.Seventeen counties, led by Jefferson, had double-digit joblesstotals for the month.