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Unemployment rate stays low in area counties

Area jobless rates took their normal seasonal jump in May, butLincoln County’s numbers maintained a good position in comparisonto other counties, chamber of commerce officials said.

“In May and June, you normally see your highest unemploymentwith students entering the work force,” said Chandler Russ,executive vice-president of the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamberof Commerce.

For May, Lincoln County’s total climbed six-tenths of a point to4.4 percent.

Lincoln County ranked 25th statewide and continued to have thesecond-lowest area rate. It was still below the state average of5.2 percent, with was up eight tenths in May.

“We’re below the state average. It’s a good healthy numberthere,” Russ said.

Russ said there were no major employment declines. Inmanufacturing areas, the work force total fell from 1,708 to 1,698.In non-manufacturing employment, the force went from 11,126 to11,108.

“You had small declines in employment. The problem came when youhad more people looking for work,” said Russ, referring to aninflux of students starting to look for summer employment.

All but one area county had rate increases of at least half apoint in May. Walthall County was the exception and its rate felltwo-tenths to 5.7 percent.

Amite County again had the lowest area rate at 3.8 percent. LikeLincoln County, its rate was up six tenths and placed the county15th in the state.

Pike and Copiah counties were the only other counties to haveincreases of less than one point. Both saw half-point rate jumps,with Pike’s climbing to 4.6 percent and Copiah’s up to 6.3percent.

To the east, Lawrence County’s rate rose 1.2 percentage pointsto 10.2 percent, which gave it the second-highest area rate. In thewest, Franklin County’s rate increased 1.4 percentage points to 8.6percent.

Jefferson County, with a 4.3 percentage point jump, continued tohave the highest area rate at 16.5 percent. It was alsothird-highest in the state behind Holmes County (18.4 percent) andIssaquena County (16.7 percent).

Mississippi Employment Security Commission officials said mostcounties saw rate increases in May, with the impact depending onlocalized layoffs or other factors. The increases were notunexpected.

“We are not surprised by the rise in the state,” said MESCExecutive Director Curt Thompson. “Each year the state experiencesa rate increase during the summer months as high school studentslooking for summer work and new college graduates enter the workforce.”

Lafayette County had the lowest rate in the state at 2.1percent. The national rate for the May was 4.1 percent.

MESC officials expected rates to continue to climb as morestudents enter the work force in June and July.