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Jobless rate climbs during May

Lincoln County’s unemployment rate jumped 1.3 percent in May,only slightly above the state average of a full point, according tothe Mississippi Department of Employment Security in the latestfigures announced this week.

The state posted an average unemployment rate of 7.3 percent,while Lincoln County’s increase growth raised its average to 8.0percent.

“We’re lower than the area average but higher than the state,”said Cliff Brumfield, executive vice president of theBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce.

Brumfield and WIN Job Center supervisor Ora Franklin said therelease of students from high school and college for the summeraccounted for most of the seasonal gains.

“The college students are out looking for jobs, and that has ahuge impact on the unemployment figures,” Franklin said.

Franklin said there were no major commercial layoffs or otherfactors that would have a significant impact on increasing theunemployment rate.

The rate could have climbed higher, she said, but the opening ofa large retail chain store here probably helped keep the numberlower. The store hired more than 100 full- and part-timeemployees.

“The opening of Home Depot could have helped keep those numbersdown,” she said.

The store officially opened today, but hiring began some timeago in order to provide the necessary training for theemployees.

A high unemployment rate is something to watch if it occursconsistently, Brumfield said, but seasonal increases such as whatoccurred in May could actually benefit the county by showingindustrial prospects that the area has a trainable ready workforce.

The chamber leader said he expects the unemployment numbers tostabilize throughout the rest of the summer.

“I would anticipate the percentages remaining where they’re atthrough August,” Brumfield said.

Other areas rates for May included:

* Copiah County: 8.4 percent

* Franklin County: 9 percent

* Lawrence County: 7.3 percent

* Pike County: 8.3 percent

“Traditionally, the unemployment rates rise in May as studentsenter the work force to seek summer employment,” said Liz Barnett,public information director for the Department of EmploymentSecurity. “But the full brunt of student summer workers will not befelt until June and July, which puts pressure on the labormarket.”

The May unadjusted rate for the state was up from 6.3 percent inApril and 1.2 points higher than the 6.1 percent posted a yearago.

The number of employed Mississippians rose by 3,700, while thenumber of unemployed Mississippians rose by 14,500.

Job gains were reported in construction, manufacturing andeducational and health services, while losses were reported intrade, transportation and utilities and professional and businessservices.

Fourteen of the state’s 82 counties posted double-digitunemployment rates, with Jefferson County in the lead with 14.7percent and Noxubee County at 13.1 percent.