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Jobless rate inches up in Oct.

Lincoln County and southwest Mississippi joined the rest of thestate in seeing jobless rate increases in October, according to newtotals from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.

At 5.8 percent, Lincoln County’s rate climbed nine-tenths of apercentage point over September. Despite the increase, LincolnCounty continued to have the 21st-lowest rate in the state and thesecond-lowest in the area.

“In spite of being up some, we’re still in good shape,” saidBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce President Kenny Goza,citing the county’s area and state rankings. “That’s still apositive number for us and our community.”

David Holland, manager of the Brookhaven MDES office, pointedout differences in labor size. Lincoln County’s labor force grew by100 from 13,760 in September to 13,860 in October, while the numberof employed slipped by only 30 from 13,090 in September to 13,060in October.

“That tells you more people are entering the market looking forwork,” said Holland, citing the possibility of seasonal employmentfor the holidays.

Lincoln was among 78 counties seeing rate increases over thetwo-month period. All area counties had higher jobless totals inOctober.

Amite County maintained the lowest southwest Mississippi rate at4.4 percent. The county’s six-tenths of a point jump was the lowestarea increase.

Lawrence and Walthall counties also had sub-one percentage pointincreases. Lawrence County’s rate climbed nine-tenths to 6.8percent while Walthall’s was up eight-tenths to 8.4 percent.

To the north, Copiah County joblessness rose 1.2 percentagepoints to 8.6 percent. To the south, Pike County’s total stood at6.9 percent, a 1.4 percentage point jump over September.

Franklin County experienced a 1.5-point hike to 9.2 percent.

That was the second-highest total in the area behind JeffersonCounty’s 18.2 percent, which was up 2.8 percent. Jefferson County’stotal was second-highest in the state behind Noxubee County’s 18.7percent.

The statewide rate climbed eight-tenths to 6.5 percent. MDESofficials, however, pointed out that rate was only two-tenthshigher than it was in October 2003.

Led by Lamar County at 3.3 percent, MDES officials said 29counties had rates equal to or lower than the state rate. Officialssaid labor force conditions were expected to improve in October andin November.