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Unemployment holds steady

Lincoln County’s jobless rate held virtually steady in June assurrounding counties and much of the rest of the state postedlarger increases in unemployment, according to totals from theMississippi Employment Security Commission (MESC).

With only a one-tenth of a point increase to 6.2 percent,Lincoln County claimed the second-lowest rate in the area in June.In May, the county had the fourth-lowest rate after its totalsoared from 3.9 percent in April to 6.1 percent.

“The good news in all this is that there were 50 more peopleworking this month than last month,” said Chandler Russ,Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce executivevice-president, about the latest numbers.

Citing MESC statistics, Russ said the number of employed rosefrom 13,330 in May to 13,380 in June. The number of unemployedinched up from 870 to 880.

The civilian labor force, the number of people available towork, rose by 60 from 14,200 in May to 14,260 in June.

“The number of employed grew at about the same rate as the laborforce,” said Russ, adding that June’s labor force total was one ofthe year’s largest. “It’s a good positive sign.”

Russ said another positive sign is that June 2004’s joblesstotal was less than it was in June 2003, when it was 6.4percent.

Significant rate increases statewide helped Lincoln Countyimprove its ranking, Russ said. The county placed 30th among 82counties in rate rankings.

In southwest Mississippi, Lincoln County was second to AmiteCounty’s 5.4 percent. That represented a three-tenths of a pointincrease.

Elsewhere, Franklin, Copiah and Walthall counties each had rateincreases of at least a point.

Franklin County’s rate rose one point to 9.8 percent for June.With Copiah’s rate up 1.2 percentage points and Walthall’s up 1.5points, the two counties tied at 7.8 percent.

To the east, Lawrence County joblessness was up seven-tenths to6.4 percent. To the south, Pike County came in a 6.7 percent afteran eight-tenths of a point jump.

Up only six-tenths, Jefferson County had the second-lowest areaincrease behind Lincoln County.

However, that was still enough to leave Jefferson with thehighest rate in the state at 20.8 percent. Next were Sharkey andHolmes counties at 15.7 percent.

Jefferson County was among 19 counties with double-digitunemployment.

Statewide, the unemployment rate climbed half a point to 6.1percent. Nevertheless, that was a point and a half lower than theJune rate in 2003, MESC officials said.

Officials said 29 counties had rates equal to or lower than thestate average. Rankin County held the lowest rate at 2.7percent.

The U.S. unemployment average in June was 5.8 percent, anhalf-point increase.