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County enjoys good results in July jobs survey

Local leaders have stressed often through recent months thatBrookhaven and Lincoln County have been blessed to not have beenhit quite as hard as they could have been by the nationwideeconomic downturn.

Recently released unemployment statistics show Lincoln County asthe only county in the area that saw an actual decrease injoblessness in the last month, dropping from 11.1 percent in Juneto 10.9 percent in July.

Brookhaven Mayor Les Bumgarner said the fact that the trend inunemployment seems to have bottomed out for the time being is apositive for the area.

“The situation is starting to look better, but we’re a long wayfrom where we want to be,” he said. “But this looks like thebeginning of a recovery. We won’t be satisfied, however, untileveryone who wants a job has one.”

Copiah County went up about two-tenths of a point, from June’s12.0 percent to July’s 12.2, while Lawrence County went up a wholepoint to 12.2 in July from 11.2 in June.

Walthall County is up to 12.4 percent from June’s 11.6 percent,with Pike rising from 9.8 percent into the double digits withJuly’s 11.2 percent. Amite and Franklin County both only had slightupturns, with Amite rising from 10.4 percent in the previous monthto 10.5 percent, and Franklin up to 11.7 percent from June’s11.6.

Jefferson County has fallen once again to last place in thestate’s 82 counties, with an unemployment rate of 21.0, up 0.8percent from June’s 20.2 percent.

Bumgarner said economic development in Lincoln County andBrookhaven could continue to help with bringing jobs to the area,but that the financial climate of the rest of the state willcontribute to that as well.

“What happens here will reflect what happens everywhere else, sowhen it gets better in other areas of the state, people will not beas afraid to move in and take chances,” he said. “People arewaiting on some good signs, because it’s hard to take a chance andpush forward when you’re uncertain about the future.”

But the impending Linbrook Business Park, as well as otherbusiness ventures around town, should put Lincoln County andBrookhaven in what will amount to a desirable situation forbusinesses and industries looking to expand or relocate.

“I think we’re getting in the position to take advantage ofthat,” he said. “We’re in the ready position, which is a good placeto be.”

And yet it’s still hard to tell when conditions are, in fact,looking up, Bumgarner said. It takes a few months to gauge thetrends before letting out a sigh of relief that the economy is backon track.

“We hope we’ve seen the bottom,” he said. “Usually it takes twoconsecutive quarters of growth before you’re truly out of it.

By the first of the year we should have a good idea, but rightnow a lot of people are in the survival mode, rather than theexpansion mode,” he continued. “Unemployment is helped byexpansion, not survival.”