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Jobless rate up in county; seasonal factors blamed

Unemployment in Lincoln County rose by 1.7 percent in May, butofficials believe the month was generally good for industry.

“We added some jobs to the labor force, but we didn’t add themfast enough to compensate,” said Chandler Russ, executivevice-president of the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber ofCommerce.

The number of employed rose from 13,650 to 13,700, Russ said,but that could not offset a rise from 900 to 1,180 people filingfor unemployment.

“If you look at the numbers themselves,” he said, “we added morepeople to the (employment) rolls, but we had more (unemployment)filings and we haven’t seen any significant industry growth.”

The rise was not isolated to Lincoln County, Russ said.

“You had increases in most counties,” he said. “I think we hadthe largest in this area, but just about every county had anincrease.”

Much of this increase can be attributed to seasonal factors, hesaid. In addition to an increase in available labor as schoolsprepared to let out for the summer, higher temperatures and a drysummer have caused many seasonal agricultural activities to be lessactive.

These factors caused the county’s unemployment rate to jump 1.7percent to top at 7.9 percent. The state’s unemployment rate rosethree-tenths of a percentage point in May, from 6.5 to 6.8 percent.The national rate for May was 5.5 percent.

Clarke County recorded the state’s highest rate at 19.3 percent.Webster County had the second highest rate at 18.5 percent andChoctaw County the third highest rate at 17.1 percent. Twenty-fiveof the state’s 82 counties had double-digit rates.

Rankin County had the state’s lowest rate in May at 3.3 percent.Lafayette County recorded the second lowest rate at 3.4 percent andTunica County the third lowest rate at 3.6 percent. Thirty-twocounties equaled or did better than the state’s average rate.

The unemployment rate should continue to rise in June as morestudent job seekers enter the market, said Mississippi EmploymentSecurity Commission Executive Director Curt Thompson.

Russ agreed and added that June or July would also reflect aminor increase because of the WorldCom layoffs.

“All of the counties around us should show some increase becauseof that,” he said.

It is common for large lay-offs to show an increase in a largearea, Russ said, because of the number of employees who travel towork.