County continues to see low unemployment

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, January 13, 2004

More Lincoln Countians were successfully finding jobs inNovember as the unemployment rate fell by more than half apercentage point, according to statistics from the MississippiEmployment Security Commission (MESC).

The county’s Thanksgiving month rate dropped to 4 percent froman October rate of 4.8 percent. The November rate allowed theLincoln County to maintain the lowest jobless rate in southwestMississippi.

“It was good that we continued our lowest in the regionranking,” said Chandler Russ, executive vice-president of theBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce.

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Russ pointed out that more people were available to work andwere working in November than October. The county’s civilian laborforce grew from 13,910 to 13,970, and the number of employed rosefrom 13,240 to 13,410 over the two-month period.

“It’s really the ramp up of the service sector getting ready forthe Christmas holidays,” Russ said. “It was across the boardgains.”

The number of unemployed dropped from 670 in October to 560 inNovember.

Lincoln County remained below the state and nationalunemployment averages. The state average in November was 4.6percent, a drop of 1.3 percentage points from October, and the U.S.average was 5.6 percent.

Russ said there may be a small spike in January unemployment asholiday workers come off the job rolls. However, the future looksgood for the area.

“As for the next two to three months, I expect we’ll see strong,stable numbers for Brookhaven and Lincoln County,” Russ said.

Economists generally consider communities with unemploymentrates of less than 5 percent to have “full employment.” Russ wasnot concerned about a lack of available labor because of movementin the employment-related totals.

“You’re bringing in people, and the labor force is growing,”said Russ, adding there would be a concern if those totals werestagnant.

MESC statistics showed that Lincoln County was the only areacounty without a drop of more than one percentage point fromOctober to November.

In other parts of southwest Mississippi, Pike County maintainedthe second-lowest area rate at 4.2 percent. That was down 1.3percentage points from October.

Amite County also had a 1.3 percentage point drop to 5.8 percentin November.

Lawrence County and Walthall County each had declines of 1.7percentage points from October to November. Lawrence’s rate was 5.3percent while Walthall’s stood at 4.4 percent, third lowest in thearea.

To the north, Copiah County’s rate was down to 5 percent. Thatrepresented a decrease of 1.4 points.

Franklin and Jefferson counties both experienced drops of morethan two percentage points. Franklin County’s rate was down 2.1percentage points to 7.2 in November.

With a 2.2 point drop to 14.1 percent, Jefferson County had thelargest decline over the two-month period. However, the county’srate was still highest in the state.

Jefferson County was one of only four counties to havedouble-digit jobless rates. Others were Panola and Clay (10.6percent) and Claiborne (10.1 percent).

Thirty-two counties had rates lower than the state average.Lamar County posted the lowest rate at 2.2 percent.