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Unemployment rate down

November unemployment rates offered some reasons for areacounties to be thankful as most saw declines for the month,according to the Mississippi Employment Security Commission(MESC).

November unemployment rates offered some reasons for areacounties to be thankful as most saw declines for the month,according to the Mississippi Employment Security Commission(MESC).

Lincoln County posted a 4.4 percent unemployment rate for theThanksgiving month. That total was down four-tenths of a point andwas second-lowest in southwest Mississippi.

Chandler Russ, executive vice-president of theBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, attributed the jobgains to the non-manufacturing sector of the economy. Althoughthere were 80 jobs added in the service sector, drops inagriculture and some other factors produced a net gain of 30 jobsfrom October to November.

“It shows the service sector is responding at the appropriatetimes,” Russ said about totals and seasonal factors influencingthem.

Russ added the totals indicate that Brookhaven is drawingcustomers from surrounding areas and is increasing its status as aregional trade center. With the 4.4 percent rate placing it atNumber 24, Lincoln County was in the top third in county-by-countyrankings.

“We hope to maintain that percentage, with the idea thatOctober, November and December are our biggest months as far asunemployment being the lowest,” Russ said.

Most other area counties also saw their rates drop in November,although a few to the west experiences some increases.

Amite County maintained the lowest rate in the area at 3.2percent. That represented a six-tenths of a point drop and placedthe county at number 10 in county-by-county rankings.

Also seeing drops of less than one percentage point were PikeCounty and Copiah County. Pike’s rate fell half a point to 5.2percent while Copiah’s was down seven-tenths to 6 percent.

Both Walthall County and Lawrence County had declines of onepoint or more, but they were still among the highest in the area.Walthall’s rate was down 1.1 percentage points to 7.5 percent whileLawrence’s rate was down one point to 8.6 percent.

To the west in Franklin and Jefferson counties, both saw theirjobless rates rise in November. The Franklin County rate was up 1.9percentage points to 7.5 percent.

Jefferson County posted a 2.8 percentage point increase inNovember to 15 percent. The rate was still the highest in the area,but it improved its statewide ranking with five counties havinghigher rates.

The highest rate statewide was Issaquena County, which posted a21.7 percent rate for the month. The lowest rate was seen inLafayette County where unemployment was only 1.1 percent.

Overall, 30 counties were at or below the state average of 4.9percent, which was down three-tenths from October’s 5.2 percent.Compared nationally, 18 counties were below the U.S. jobless rateof 3.8 percent.

For December, MESC officials expected urban area unemployment tostay low due to the addition of retail jobs for the holidays.However, rates in agricultural areas should remain up due to winterconditions.