• 57°

Lincoln Co. jobless rate falls to 4.9%

More people had reason to be thankful in November as LincolnCounty’s unemployment rate plunged by almost a full percentagepoint, according to totals from the Mississippi Department ofEmployment Security.

At 4.9 percent for the Thanksgiving month, Lincoln County’s ratewas down 0.9 from October’s 5.8 percent. That rate was good enoughfor second-lowest in southwest Mississippi and maintained LincolnCounty’s hold on the 21st lowest rate in the state.

Kenny Goza, Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commercepresident, said the lower jobless rate was a positive sign for thecommunity.

“I’m sure the holiday season probably spurred that, with peopleadding employees,” Goza said. “That’s good news for us, andhopefully it will show up in sales tax totals.”

Sales tax disbursements, which reflect sales made during theprevious month, for November were about even compared with those ofNovember 2003, and totals for December will be released in January.Goza was optimistic that the unemployment report and sales taxreturns would signal continued positive growth for the communityinto 2005.

Lincoln County was among 74 counties that saw their rates dropfrom October to November.

With the exception of Amite County, which saw a 0.3-point pointdrop, all area counties had rate declines of at least 0.7. Fourcounties experienced rate drops of more than a point.

At 4.1 percent, Amite County held onto the lowest rate in thearea last month. That placed the county 12th statewide.

With a 0.8 drop, Lawrence County claimed the third-lowest arearate at 6 percent. Pike County, which had a 0.7 drop, was next at6.2 percent.

To the southeast, Walthall County’s rate fell 1.9 points to 6.5percent.

Copiah and Franklin counties each had declines of 1.1 points.Copiah’s rate was down to 7.8 percent while Franklin’s came in at8.1 for November.

Jefferson was the other area county to see a major drop. Itsrate dipped to 16.5 percent, a decline of 1.7 points. That,however, was still the highest in the area and in the state, almostthree points higher than next-highest Noxubee County at 13.6percent.

On the other end of the spectrum, Lamar County had the lowestjobless rate last month at 2.7 percent. It was the secondconsecutive month for the county to lead the state.

As a whole, the state rate fell 0.6 to 5.9 percent. MDESofficials pointed out that was down from October’s rate but stillhigher than the November 2003 total of 5.1 percent.

Officials cited fewer short-term layoffs and increased hiring inwholesale and retail areas as the key factors for the November 2004rate decline.

Conditions for December were expected to be similar to those inNovember.