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Jobless rate sees October increase

October saw Lincoln County’s unemployment total climb more thanone percentage point as the county’s labor force grew faster thanjobs could be created, said Chandler Russ, Brookhaven-LincolnCounty Chamber of Commerce executive vice-president.

The county’s jobless rate was up 1.1-point to 6.7 percent forOctober. That was fourth-lowest in the southwest Mississippi as allarea counties posted increases for the Halloween month.

“The good news is we had 80 more people working in LincolnCounty in October than in September,” Russ said. “The bad news wasthat we had 170 more people looking for jobs in October than inSeptember.”

The number of people employed last month was 13,630, up fromSeptember’s 13,550. The number of unemployed was 980 in October and810 in September.

The county’s civilian labor force swelled by 250 over thetwo-month period. The force total was 14,610 in October and 14,360in September.

While Lincoln County saw some job gains, Russ said plantclosures in some surrounding counties may have negatively impactedthe local totals.

“Some external factors are putting some pressure on our labormarket,” Russ said.

Despite the higher rate, Russ remained optimistic about the jobsituation. He said manufacturers and service industries continue todo well.

“All in all, I still think we have some fairly healthy numbers,”Russ said.

In statewide rankings, Brookhaven was 34th among the state’s 82counties.

Amite County maintained the lowest area jobless rate at 5.7percent, although that was up 1.3 percentage points forOctober.

Pike County dropped to the second-lowest rate with athree-tenths of a point increase to 6.2 percent. Lawrence Countywas third-lowest at 6.3 percent, a jump of half a point fromSeptember.

Franklin County also saw an increase of less than one point. Itsrate was up eight-tenths to 8.7 percent.

To the north, Copiah County experienced a one-point increase to7.8 percent. In Walthall County, joblessness was up 1.6 percentagepoints to 9.0 for October.

Jefferson County saw the largest jobless rate increase, going up2.6 percentage points to 14.6 percent. That was again the highestin the area and third-highest in the state behind Clarke County’s16.8 percent and Webster County’s 16.5 percent.

For the state as a whole, the average was 6.6 percent, up from5.7 percent the previous month, according to the MississippiEmployment Security Commission. The national rate for last monthwas 5.3 percent.

MESC officials attributed the increase to agriculturalemployment declines and a change in the way Census Bureau collectsdata and its effect on the state’s jobless picture.

In October, 33 counties had rates equal to or better than thestate rate. Twenty counties had double-digit jobless totals.

Curt Thompson, MESC executive director, said November andDecember jobless totals have dropped in agricultural areas due tothe harvest season’s end and risen in urban area because ofadditional holiday retail help.

“This year, wet weather has already impacted farming and thesluggish economy may put a damper on retail sales,” Thompson said.”We will just have to wait and see what the numbers bring.”