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Jobless rate up slightly

Lincoln County unemployment rose almost a point in March, butthe county’s total was still well below the state average,according to statistics from the Mississippi Employment SecurityCommission (MESC).

Lincoln County unemployment rose almost a point in March, butthe county’s total was still well below the state average,according to statistics from the Mississippi Employment SecurityCommission (MESC).

At 4.8 percent, the county’s rate was up nine-tenths fromFebruary’s 3.9 percent. The March rate was good enough to put thecounty at Number 27 in county-by-county rankings.

MESC officials said most counties in the state saw increases,although they downplayed any negative economic effects. The stateaverage rose half a point from 5.1 percent to 5.6 percent.

“The rise is in the rate is not dramatic,” said Curt Thompson,MESC executive director. “We still are not seeing any major joblosses here in Mississippi.”

Thompson pointed out that the March 2001 rate was less than theMarch 2000 rate of 6 percent. He expected better weather in Aprilwould be favorable to more outside work and help job totals forthat month.

All counties in the southwest Mississippi area had rateincreases. Three counties, Amite, Copiah and Walthall, had jumps offour-tenths of a point.

Amite continues to have the lowest rate in the area at 3.7percent, which placed it at number 13 in statewide county rankings.Copiah’s rate climbed to 6 percent while the Walthall level was upto 7.4 percent.

Seeing the smallest area increase was Pike County. Its rate rosea slight three tenths of a point to 5.4 percent for March.

Lawrence County was the only other area county to have a raterise of less than one percentage point. Its March total was upeight tenths to 10.4 percent.

To the west, Franklin County experienced a 1.3 percentage pointclimb to 8.7 percent.

Maintaining the highest rate in the area was Jefferson County,which saw a 3.4-point increase. Its rate was fourth-highest in thestate behind Issaquena, Holmes and Sharkey counties.

Lafayette County had the lowest rate in the state at 2percent.

Overall, 34 counties had jobless rates less than the stateaverage of 5.6 percent. Compared to the national average of 4.6percent, 24 counties were at or below that level.