Unemployment stays low here

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, August 1, 2001

A declining June jobless rate helped Lincoln County claim ashare of the lowest unemployment rate in the area, according torecent statistics from the Mississippi Employment SecurityCommission (MESC).

A declining June jobless rate helped Lincoln County claim ashare of the lowest unemployment rate in the area, according torecent statistics from the Mississippi Employment SecurityCommission (MESC).

With a two-tenths of a point drop, Lincoln County tied AmiteCounty at 4.2 percent and gave the counties the lowest rate insouthwest Mississippi. Amite County’s rate for the month climbedfour-tenths of a point.

Both counties were in the state’s Top 20 as far as jobless raterankings. Accounting for counties with the same rates, Lincoln andAmite counties had the 13th-lowest total in the state.

“What’s good is our economy is absorbing the population,” saidChandler Russ, executive vice-president of the Brookhaven-LincolnCounty Chamber of Commerce. “From a regional standpoint, we stillhave a sufficient labor force.”

From May to June, Russ said the number of people unemployeddropped by 30 and the civilian labor force fell from 14,600 to14,550.

“Those were the biggest reasons for the rate decrease,” Russsaid.

The number of employed fell, too, from 13,960 to 13,940. He saidthe smaller labor force combined with the lower number of thoselisted as unemployed, due either to their benefits running out,finding work elsewhere or not filing an application for benefits,resulted in the lower jobless rate.

“We still have healthy regional numbers in the manufacturing andretail sectors,” Russ said. “We have plenty to choose from on aregional basis.”

Russ said the healthy totals in the area of available work forcewill help keep the Brookhaven and Lincoln County attractive to newbusinesses and industries.

June jobless totals gave other area counties mixed results asthree saw increases and three saw decreases.

Leading the rate risers was Pike County. Its rate jumped 1.4points to 6 percent, which was still the second-lowest rate in thearea.

Walthall County had a nine-tenths of a point jump to 6.6 percentfor the month.

Jefferson County joblessness climbed one full point to stand at17.5 percent. That was highest in the area and second-highest inthe state behind Holmes County’s 18.1 percent.

Lawrence County led the way among those with rate drops. Itsrate fell 1.4 percentage points to 8.8 percent.

Copiah County’s rate was down half a point to 5.8 percent andFranklin County saw a three-tenths fall to 8.3 percent.

The statewide rate inched up slightly, from 5.2 percent in Mayto 5.3 percent in June. Offsetting job gains and losses in varioushelped keep the rate when it traditionally rises due to studentsummer job-seekers.

“Summer workers cause the rate to rise throughout the summer,but it appears that the students workers were absorbed into thework force in June,” said Curt Thompson, MESC executivedirector.

The June 2000 jobless rate was 7.1 percent.

Rankin County had the lowest rate in the state last month at 2.3percent. On the other end of the spectrum, 16 counties haddouble-digit unemployment rates.

The U.S. rate for the month was 4.7 percent. Twenty-fiveMississippi counties were at or below the national average while 31counties were below the state average.