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Jobless rate up slightly in county

Lincoln County maintained a good unemployment picture despite aslight bump upward in August, according to statistics from theMississippi Employment Security Commission.

While other southwest Mississippi counties continued a downwardtrend, Lincoln County saw a slight increase of three-tenths of apoint to 5.6 percent.

“I think it’s just a cyclical move,” said Chandler Russ,Brookhaven-Lincoln County executive vice-president, about theincrease.

Russ said it appears the increase was in the areas of timber andother agricultural activities. He said there was no manufacturingor service sector job movement of any concern.

Despite the increase, Lincoln County kept the second-lowest ratein the area behind Amite County. In statewide county-by-countyrankings, Lincoln County placed 33rd, which tied it with CalhounCounty.

“You’re going to have some ups and downs,” Russ said. “I thinkthe number is a good indication of where we’re at as far as jobsand unemployment.”

To the west in Franklin County, unemployment was down 1.1 pointsto 6.8 percent. Aside from Jefferson County, it had the largestdrop for the month.

With the lowest area rate, Amite County posted a one-tenth of apoint drop to 4.8 percent for August.

Pike and Walthall counties each posted declines of four-tenthsof a point. Pike’s rate was third in the area at 6.2 percent whileWalthall County’s rate for the month was 10 percent.

Lawrence County had a two-tenths of a point drop but continuedto have double-digit unemployment at 11.2 percent.

Copiah County saw an eight-tenths of a point drop. Its Augustrate was 7.5 percent.

With a 2.4 percentage point drop, Jefferson County posted in thebiggest decline in August. Its 17.5 percent rate, however, wasstill highest in the area and second to Holmes County’s 19.9percent in the state.

In statewide unemployment reports, the state rate fell slightlyfrom 5.9 percent in July to 5.5 percent in August.

MESC officials attributed the decline to labor force reductionsrelated to agricultural employment and student summer workersreturning to school. They touted job total gains over a one-yearperiod.

“Employment has surged during the year,” said Thomas E. Lord,MESC executive director. “There are about 40,000 moreMississippians employed than a year ago.”

According to totals, 33 counties had rates under the stateaverage while 17 counties posted double-digit unemployment rates.Lafayette County had the lowest rate at 2.3 percent.

The national rate for August was 4.1 percent.