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Jobless rate below state, U.S. marks

Lincoln County’s unemployment total in April dropped, butchamber of commerce officials said the decline was not necessarilydue to more people finding work.

Mississippi Employment Security Commission statistics showedLincoln County’s unemployment rate fell from 4.8 percent in Marchto 3.8 percent in April. In fact, all area counties posted ratedeclines for last month.

“We didn’t have a big increase in employment,” said ChandlerRuss, executive vice-president of the Brookhaven-Lincoln CountyChamber of Commerce. “What we had was a decrease in people lookingfor work.”

Russ said the reasons for that could include citizens’unemployment benefits running out, their moving from the area orfeeling discouraged in their pursuit of employment.

Regarding employment activity, Russ said there was a smallincrease in the manufacturing area, which was also reflected insome statewide totals. Russ added there was some reductions in thewholesale and retail trade areas.

With the 3.8 percent rate, Lincoln County placed 26th out of 82counties in statewide rankings. The county’s rate was below boththe state average of 4.3 percent and the national average of 4.2percent.

“You’re happy it went down,” Russ said about the April rate.”But we also want to provide those looking for employment withgood-paying jobs and give those who are employed an opportunity toadvance through other employment options.”

Lincoln County continued to have the second-lowest rate in thearea behind Amite County, which posted a 3.2 percent rate for themonth. With its rate dropping half a percentage point, Amite Countywas 17th in the state rankings.

Amite and Copiah counties were the only ones in the area to seedeclines of less than a full percentage point. Copiah’s rate wasdown two-tenths to 5.8 percent for April.

Pike County experienced a 1.3-point drop to 4.1 percent. Thatwas good enough for the third-lowest rate in the area.

Franklin County and Walthall County each had rate declines of1.5 percentage points. Franklin’s rate was down to 7.2 percent andWalthall’s rate stood at 5.9 percent for the month.

The Lawrence County rate fell 1.4 points in April. However, thecounty’s 9 percent total was still second-highest in the area.

Despite a considerable 6.1 percentage point drop, JeffersonCounty’s jobless rate was 12.2 percent. That was highest in thearea and third-highest in the state behind Holmes County (16.3percent) and Issaquena County (14.5 percent).

On the state level, MESC officials said the state rate was down1.3 percentage points from March’s 5.6 percent. They attributed thedrop to job gains in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors anda diverse state economy.

“The diversity of Mississippi’s economy has helped to keep theunemployment rate low at a time when we are seeing a rise innational unemployment numbers,” said Curt Thompson, MESC executivedirector.

Thirty-four counties had rates equal to or lower than the stateaverage while 29 were below the national average. Only eightcounties had jobless rates in the double digits.

Jobless rates in May are expected to rise as students get out ofschool and seek summer employment, Thompson said.