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County sees slight drop in jobless rate

Lincoln County saw a slight decrease in August unemployment andimproved in ranking in the area, according to totals from theMississippi Employment Security Commission.

Lincoln County’s rate fell a small one-tenth of a point to 6.9percent for August.

“We’re back tied for second-lowest in southwest Mississippi,”said Chandler Russ, executive vice-president of theBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce.

With an eight-tenths of a point jump, Pike County’s rate matchedLincoln’s 6.9 percent. Both counties trailed Amite County’s 4.8percent rate, which was unchanged from July to August.

Russ said there were fewer Lincoln Countians unemployed over thetwo-month period: 1,060 in July and 1,010 in August. He added thatcivilian labor force-related changes contributed to the lowerunemployment rate.

“We’re still higher than the state rate,” Russ said incomparision to Mississippi’s 6.2 percent jobless rate. “We need towork for improvement and see that number come down.”

With retail development and good signs in other areas, Russ wasoptimistic that the county’s rate would continue to drop.

“We’ll see that number get better as the year churns on,” Russsaid.

Most southwest Mississipi counties saw only slight changes injobless rates.

Copiah and Walthall counties’ rates were down one-tenth of apoint. Copiah’s rate fell to 7.7 percent while Walthall’s was downto 9.1 percent.

Lawrence County experienced a minor one-tenth increase to 7.1percent for August.

To the west, Franklin County had a nine-tenths of a point dropto 8.2 percent.

Jefferson County continued a pattern of major rate swings up ordown.

In August, the county’s rate fell 1.7 percentage points to 15.6percent. That was highest in the area and third highest in thestate behind Clarke County’s 17.8 percent and Webster County’s 16.8percent.

For the state as a whole, the 6.2 percent rate was down from 6.5percent in July. It was the second most in a row for a state ratedecline.

MESC Executive Director Curt Thompson said the lower rate may bea “two-edged sword” in that citizens may have found jobs or thatthey may have exhausted unemployment benefits and are no longerreflected in statistics.

“While it is good to see the unemployment rate fall for thesecond straight month, it is still too son to tell the extent ofour state’s recovery,” Thompson said. “We mirror the nationaleconomy and so far this year, that has been a mixed picture withrecovery coming very slowly.”

According to totals, 17 counties had double-digit jobless ratesin August. Thirty-two counties, led by Rankin County’s 3.1 percent,were below the state average.

Thompson looked for good September totals due to expected jobgains in the agriculture and educational sectors of theeconomy.