Jobless rate posts new drop

Published 5:00 am Friday, May 16, 2003

The state unemployment rate remained stable in March at 6.2percent, but Lincoln County was able to lower its rate slightly to5.5 percent, according to statistics from the MississippiEmployment Security Commission (MESC).

“All in all, it was a good, positive month with signs of aneconomy that is starting to turn around,” said Chandler Russ,Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce executivevice-president.

At 5.5 percent, Lincoln County continued to show a decline inunemployment, but the rate fell far less than it did in February,when it posted a 1.6 percent drop.

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Still, Russ said, at 5.5 percent Lincoln County’s rate is belowthe state and national average, which are both at 6.2.

“Our local economy is good and resilient,” he said. “We continueto be a regional service center for the area, which helpsunemployment here remain stable.”

The .3 percent drop indicates that the county’s number ofunemployed fell from 830 to 790.

No sector of the job market showed a significant increase injobs, Russ said, indicating a slight growth in all of them.

“My suspicion is that they found jobs throughout the wholesector, which would leave the numbers relatively unchanged whiledriving down the unemployment,” he said.

The March 2003 statistics are about average, he said, notingthat in 2001 the unemployment rate was only 4.8 percent, but thatin 2002, when another slight drop was recorded, the rate hadclimbed to 6.6.

In other area counties, Copiah and Pike counties reported a .2drop while Lawrence held the highest drop in the area at .4. Amiteand Franklin counties both posted an increase of .3 percent.

“I think you’re starting to see the economy level out,” Russsaid. “The war with Iraq is over and we seem to be emerging fromrecession outlook economy.”

Unemployment should continue to fall in April, according to MESCExecutive Director Curt Thompson, as outdoor employment in sectorslike construction and farming picks up.