Lincoln Co. unemployment holds level

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Lincoln County held steady amid a rising tide of areaunemployment as its June job market was able to absorb a largersummer work force, according to statistics from the MississippiDepartment of Employment Security.

While surrounding counties saw significant increases, LincolnCounty’s jobless rate remained level at 8 percent for June.

That followed a May increase of more than 1 percentage point.The county’s June 2005 rate was 0.6 points higher than the 7.4percent total from June a year ago.

MDES statistics for the county showed a June civilian laborforce increase of 240 people to 15,710. Many were able to findjobs, as the number of employed rose by 220 to 14,460, leaving1,250 listed as unemployed.

Cliff Brumfield, Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerceexecutive vice president, credited job gains in the retail sectorand slight increases in the manufacturing area with helping thecounty to maintain its total. He predicted rate decreases in themonths ahead.

“As we approach the third quarter, we should see those numbersdecline as students return to school at the end of the summer,”Brumfield said.

With its total, Lincoln County posted the lowest jobless rate insouthwest Mississippi. Statewide, the county ranked 29th.

Amite and Walthall counties tied for the second-lowest area rateat 8.5 percent. Walthall’s rate was up 1.1 points while Amite’stotal climbed 1.3 points.

With a 1.4-percentage point increase, Lawrence County was theonly other area county to see a rate under 9 percent. Its Junetotal stood at 8.7 percent.

Four area counties had increases of less than one point. Theyincluded:

* Copiah County – up 0.7 to 9.1 percent.

* Pike County – up 0.9 to 9.2 percent.

* Franklin County – up 0.6 to 9.6 percent.

* Jefferson County – up 0.2 to 16.7 percent.

Jefferson County, one of 20 with double-digit rates, maintainedthe highest total in the state in June. Its rate almost three fullpoints above the second-highest Holmes County at 13.8 percent.

For the state as a whole, unemployment was up 0.6 points to 7.9percent. That also was a full point higher than the 6.9 percentposted in June 2004.

Led by DeSoto County at 4 percent, 28 counties had rates lessthan the state average.

MDES officials were hopeful future months would produce betterunemployment totals.

“If trends hold true, July should bring some relief from therising joblessness,” said Wayne Gasson, chief of labor marketinformation.