Feb. unemployment falls to 5.1 percent

Published 5:00 am Monday, April 12, 2004

The unemployment picture for Lincoln County brightened inFebruary as the county’s jobless rate fell to just above 5 percent,according to totals from the Mississippi Employment SecurityCommission (MESC).

At 5.1 percent, Lincoln County joblessness was down three-tenthsof a point from January’s 5.4 percent.

“The significant total is that the number of employed increasedby 190 from January to February,” said Chandler Russ,Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce executivevice-president.

In January, the number of people employed was 13,300 while13,490 people had jobs in February. In addition, the number ofpeople unemployed fell from 740 in January to 720 in February.

Russ said the totals means that the civilian labor force grewand that the economy was able to offset that growth, as well ashelp shrink the jobless rate. Of the job gains, 10 were inmanufacturing, 50 in non-manufacturing areas and the rest werespread across the board in other non-agricultural job sectors.

“Overall, it’s real healthy numbers for Lincoln County,” Russsaid. “We continue to lead the region as far as unemployment isconcerned.”

In addition to leading the area, Lincoln County had the 25thlowest rate in the state. It continued to be below both the statejobless rate and the national jobless rate averages.

The state rate was 5.6 percent and the national average was 6percent in February. The state rate was down six-tenths of a pointin February.

“That’s a sign of a strong national economy and that trends areimproving at home,” Russ said.

In other parts of southwest Mississippi, Pike County continuedto have the second-lowest area rate. Its February total was downeight-tenths of a point to 5.3 percent.

Several area counties’ rates fell by one percentage point ormore.

Franklin County saw a 1.3-point drop to 8.2 percent.

Copiah and Lawrence counties’ totals were each down one point.Copiah County’s rate was 6 percent while Lawrence’s was 5.7 percentfor February.

Jefferson County had the biggest decline, a 4.2-point fall to 16percent. However, that was still the highest in the state andthird-highest statewide behind Sharkey County’s 21.5 percent andIssaquena County’s 16.9 percent.

Amite County and Walthall County experienced jobless ratedeclines of around half a point. Amite County’s total was downfive-tenths to 6.6 percent and Walthall’s dipped six-tenths to 5.5percent.

Statewide, 31 counties were below the state average. LamarCounty had the lowest rate at 2.6 percent.

MESC officials said March totals may improve from February.However, they cautioned that spring weather conditions could alsohave a negative impact on economic activity.