Unemployment rate stays down

Published 5:00 am Thursday, June 10, 2004

Lincoln County continued to have good unemployment news in Aprilas the county’s rate held steady at 3.9 percent, according tototals from the Mississippi Employment Security Commission(MESC).

“It remained constant and low for the month,” said ChandlerRuss, executive vice-president of the Brookhaven-Lincoln CountyChamber of Commerce.

Russ cited MESC statistics showing minor gains in manufacturingand non-manufacturing sectors.

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“Both had slight increases over the previous month,” said Russ,while mentioning a 10-person increase in the number of unemployedpeople.

Lincoln County’s 3.9 percent placed it 24th in the statealthough several higher-ranked counties had the samepercentages.

“We continue to lead the area with the lowest unemployment,”Russ said.

Russ said April 2004 matched a five-year low in comparison ofApril rates going back to 1999.

“This is the lowest it’s been since 2001 when it was also 3.9percent,” Russ said.

Lincoln County’s rate was seven-tenths below the state’s 4.6percent and a full point and a half below the U.S. 5.4 percentrate. Russ said the good employment news bodes well for chamberactivity currently under way.

“Our prospect activity, both commercial and industrial, isextremely high,” Russ said. “We’ve got more prospects now thanwe’ve ever had.”

Russ said he was unable to discuss specifics regarding theprospects. He said the commercial prospects could materialize in asquickly as a few months while the 10 industrial prospects couldtake longer.

“All of our industrial prospects are in the infancy stage,” Russsaid. “We just have a lot of them, which is good.”

Unemployment rates in other counties were mixed, with severalseeing increases or holding steady. Franklin County was the onlyone to see a decrease from March to April as its rate slippedfour-tenths of a point to 6.4 percent.

Pike and Lawrence counties tied for second-lowest in the area4.5 percent. Pike’s rate was unchanged while Lawrence’s moved uptwo-tenths.

Copiah County’s rate was also unchanged at 5.6 percent. AmiteCounty saw only one-tenth of a point increase to 5.1 percent.

In Walthall County, unemployment was up more than half a point,rising eight-tenths to 5.6 percent.

Jefferson County posted a 1.8 percentage point increase to 15.2percent. That was once again the highest in the state by more thantwo points over Sharkey County’s 12.9 percent.

Thirty counties were below the state’s 4.6 percent rate inApril. Two counties, Rankin and Lamar, tied for the lowest rate inthe state at 2.4 percent.

MESC Executive Director Curt Thompson anticipated someseasonal-related adjustments in the future.

“May unemployment numbers normally register higher due toseasonal layoffs in education related jobs, students looking forsummer work and the outpouring of college graduates entering thejob market,” he said.