Area unemployment rates climb in final month of 2007

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Area unemployment was up in December of 2007, with LincolnCounty’s 6.3 percentage rate still a tenth of a point below theMississippi average of 6.4 percent.

Mississippi Department of Employment Security Labor MarketInformation Bureau Director Wayne Gasson said rates seem to befollowing a yearly trend.

“If the historical trends continue, expect January to record oneof the highest unemployment rates of the year,” said Gasson.

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Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Executive VicePresident Cliff Brumfield agreed with Gasson, saying January isusually the worst month of the year for unemployment rates.

“We can expect it to be even higher in January as many part-timeretail jobs will no longer be reflected in this report, as well asJanuary being the slowest month of the year for our local economy,”he said.

Brumfield said the numbers fluctuate in the later part of theyear because of undulations in the holiday retail market.

“As expected, December numbers still bode well and kept us underthe state average due in part to the seasonal employment in ourretail base during the holidays,” he said.

The rise could also be due in part to agricultural enterprisesaffected by the cold winter weather, Brumfield said.

“There is also a great reduction in timber activity relative totrends in that marketplace as well as the wet winter months,” hesaid. “That also possibly forced the number to be higher than itwould have been otherwise.”

Lincoln County, up from November’s 5.7 percent, was among thelowest numbers in area counties, tied with Walthall and Franklin at6.3 percent each. Walthall was up from 5.5 percent and Franklin wasup from 5.6 percent in November.

Pike County came in with a 6.4 percent unemployment rate, up .7from its 5.7 percent in November. Amite County was up to 6.7percent from November’s 5.9, and Lawrence and Copiah both recordeda 7.2 unemployment rate for December. Lawrence was at 6.5 inNovember and Copiah was at 6.6 percent.

Jefferson County was second to last in the state with anunemployment rate of 13.2 percent, just ahead of Clay County’s 13.6percent. Jefferson is up from 11.6 percent in November.