Unemployment rate inches up

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lincoln County’s unemployment rate was up a little for the monthof March, but experts predict jobless rates will improve along withthe weather in the near future.

Lincoln County was up from 6 percent in February to 6.2 percentin March, while the state’s rate stayed steady at 5.9 percent.Mississippi Department of Employment Security Chief of Labor MarketInformation Wayne Gasson said things will be looking up for April,however.

“As weather conditions warm up and storm damaged areas persistin rebuilding, planting will begin in the fields and business willreopen and rehire. This should cause employment rates to increaseand the unemployment rate to decrease for the month of April,” hesaid.

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Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Executive VicePresident Cliff Brumfield said the slowdown in the timber market iscertainly affecting the area.

“That is surely reflected in these numbers, since that’s a majoremployment sector of Lincoln County, but compared to downturns inother areas, these numbers still bode quite well,” he said. “Assummer weather approaches, though, we hope to see the numbersincrease before the traditionally slower summer months begin.”

Other area counties recorded similar trends, with Copiah Countyrising from February’s 6 percent to 6.2 percent as well. FranklinCounty also rose .2 percent, from 6.2 percent in February to 6.4percent in March.

Pike County was up from 6 percent to 6.3 percent, whileWalthall’s jump was a little smaller from 5.9 percent to 6percent.

Amite County was the only county in the area whose ratesdropped. They recorded a 6.3 percent unemployment rate for Marchafter February’s 6.7 percent.

Lawrence and Jefferson counties both held on at the same ratefor February and march, with Lawrence County remaining at 6.6percent and Jefferson’s remaining at 11.9 percent. Jefferson stillhas the highest unemployment rate in the state.

MDES statistics show areas dependent on farm-related jobsshowing the highest job gains throughout the state due to workersbeginning spring planting activities, and coastal counties haveshown job gains as well due to continued hurricane cleanup.