Jobless rate stays low

Published 5:00 am Monday, April 2, 2001

A declining jobless rate helped Lincoln County climb into thestate’s Top 20 in rankings, according to February unemploymenttotals from the Mississippi Employment Security Commission(MESC).

A declining jobless rate helped Lincoln County climb into thestate’s Top 20 in rankings, according to February unemploymenttotals from the Mississippi Employment Security Commission(MESC).

Lincoln County’s rate fell two-tenths of a percentage to 3.9percent for the second month of the year. The county held onto thesecond-lowest rate in the area and placed 20th in county-by-countyrankings.

“It’s looking good from an employment number basis forFebruary,” said Chandler Russ, executive vice-president of theBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce.

Russ said the county’s civilian labor force grew by 100 inFebruary to 14,700. Plus, the number of unemployed fell from 600 to580, meaning there were 120 more people counted as employed inFebruary over January.

“We were able to absorb more people into the labor force withoutany problems,” Russ said. “It’s a strong outlook for the localeconomy.”

Russ said the largest gains were in the manufacturing,construction and financial areas.

Almost all southwest Mississippi counties posted rate declines,with Amite County remaining steady and Pike County’s one-tenth of apoint climb being the exceptions. The Pike County rate was 5.1percent.

At 3.3 percent, Amite County’s rate was unchanged and it heldonto the lowest rate in the area. In statewide county rankings, itwas 12th.

Two area counties saw drops of four-tenths of a point. LawrenceCounty’s rate was down to 9.6 percent and Walthall County’s ratefell to 7 percent.

Joining Lincoln County with two-tenths of a point rate declineswere Copiah and Franklin counties. Copiah County posted a good 5.6percent rate and Franklin’s rate was down to 7.4 percent.

Seeing the largest drop, but still with the highest rate in thearea, was Jefferson County. Its February rate was 14.7 percent,down six-tenths of a point, and gave it the fifth-highest rate inthe state.

At 5 percent, the statewide jobless rate was unchanged. That wasa little higher than the national rate of 4.6 percent.

MESC officials said severe weather in some areas, worker layoffsand plant closings impacted some job efforts. Job gains in otherareas, though, helped offset those losses.

“Even though there were some setbacks, the work force finishedthe month with a lower unemployment rate than last February whenthe rate was 5.9 percent,” said Curt Thompson, MESC executivedirector. “We in Mississippi just aren’t yet seeing the economicslowdown experienced at the national level.”

Job totals were expected to improve in March as the weatherimproves, creating more favorable working conditions.

For February, 32 counties had rates lower than the stateaverage. At 1.8 percent Lafayette County continued to have thelowest rate and Issaquena County had the highest at 24.2percent.