Jobless rate up slightly

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Lincoln County joined much of the rest of southwest Mississippiin seeing unemployment rate increases in May as student job-seekerslooked for work, according to totals from the MississippiEmployment Security Commission (MESC).

Despite a half a point increase, Lincoln County maintained thesecond-lowest rate in the area at 5.7 percent. That was below boththe national unemployment average of 5.8 percent and the state rateof 6.5 percent, which was up four-tenths of a point from April.

Chandler Russ, Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerceexecutive vice-president, said the increase was not due to morepeople being out of work, but rather more people looking forwork.

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“We actually had more people employed in May than we did inApril,” Russ said.

Citing MESC totals, Russ said Lincoln County had 13,650 peoplewith jobs in May, compared to 13,620 in April. However, thecounty’s civilian labor force grew to 14,480 in May compared to14,380 in April.

“In May and June, you have a big influx of students looking forwork,” Russ said. “This was the first wave of those, and we’llprobably see more in June.”

For the most part, Russ said job category totals were fairlyunchanged. He mentioned a slight increase in the wholesale jobarea.

Overall, he said, the county is maintaining some healthy,long-term totals. He said the county has added jobs and also addedto the civilian labor force.

“You’ve got a good healthy number of people out there seekingemployment,” Russ said. “It’s our goal to help those people findemployment through the location of business and industry.”

Lincoln County placed 24th in the state in county-by-county raterankings. Lamar County was first in the state with a 3.1 percentjobless rate.

In southwest Mississippi, Pike County led the way despite athree-tenths of a point increase. Its May rate was 4.8 percent.

All but two area counties, Amite and Walthall, posted rate hikesin May. Amite and Walthall counties were each down two-tenths of apoint to 10.9 percent and 6.6 percent respectively.

In Copiah County, joblessness was up four-tenths to 6.5 percent.To the east, Lawrence County had a six-tenths of a point jump to7.1 percent.

Franklin County’s jobless rate was up almost a full point inMay. Its total rose nine-tenths to 10.8 percent.

Jefferson County had the highest rate increase, climbing 2.5percentage points to 20.2 percent. That was the highest rate in thestate.

Jefferson County was among 23 counties to have double-digitunemployment totals in May, MESC officials said. Thirty countieshad jobless rates equal to or lower than the state’s 6.5percent.

State officials anticipate higher June jobless totals as morestudent join the job market to seek summer employment.