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Jobless rate takes slight drop

Lincoln County’s unemployment picture was fairly unchanged inMarch as the area continued 2002’s slight downward trend, accordingto Mississippi Employment Security Commission (MESC) totals.

Lincoln County’s jobless total stood at 6.4 percent in March,which represented a one-tenth of a point drop from an adjustedFebruary total of 6.5 percent.

“For the most part, they were pretty stable,” said ChandlerRuss, Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce executivevice-president, about rates over the two-month period.

Russ said the county’s civilian labor force shrunk from 14,710in February to 14,650 in March.

That combined with a 20-person drop in the number of unemployed,from 960 to 940, over the two months. In employment areas, Russsaid there was 10-person gain in manufacturing, and six were addedin service areas, but there were no major job gain swings.

“It was very little change,” Russ said. “It was spread outpretty evenly among the sectors.”

In southwest Mississippi, Lincoln County continued to besecond-lowest behind Amite County’s 5.5 percent, which was upthree-tenths.

Statewide, Lincoln County placed 30th in lowest rate rankings.The state rate for March was 6.9 percent, which was up three-tenthsfrom February’s total.

Russ said Lincoln County’s rate has fallen one-tenth of a pointin each of the first three months of 2002.

“We hope this trend continues and we’re able to be get morepeople back to work,” Russ said.

Elsewhere in the area, counties saw rates changes of less thanhalf a point up or down.

Lawrence County led those seeing increases with a half a pointjump to 7.4 percent.

Copiah and Walthall counties each had jumps of four-tenths of apoint. Copiah’s rate was up to 7.7 percent while Walthall’s was 7.2percent.

To the south, Pike County had a minor one-tenth of point hike to7.5 percent.

Among rate decliners, Franklin and Jefferson counties each haddrops of three-tenths of a point from February to March. Franklin’srate was down to 9.6 percent while Jefferson’s stood at 14.1percent.

Jefferson County was joined by 25 others with double-digitjoblessness. Issaquena County had the highest rate at 21.9percent.

Lafayette County had the lowest rate in the state with 2.8percent.

Overall, 35 counties had rates equal to or lower than thestate’s 6.9 percent. Twenty-six counties were below the nationalaverage of 6.1 percent.