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Totals show jobless rate declines

Lincoln County, and subsequently the state, seem to haverebounded a little from the job slump the state experienced inJuly, according to totals from the Mississippi Department ofEmployment Security.

Lincoln County was at 10.9 percent unemployment in July, but themost recent numbers were better by any standard as the countyexperienced a 1.4-point drop to 9.5 percent for August. Statewidethe unadjusted rate fell from 10.5 percent to 9.5 percent.

Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Executive VicePresident Cliff Brumfield said the improvement in the numbers wassomething local officials had hoped to see. But they’re afraid therecent closure of Columbus Lumber will make for higher numbers incoming months.

“As expected our (jobless) numbers decreased due to theimprovement in the economy of the Brookhaven area,” he said. “Theclosure of Columbus Lumber by Bank of America will add to (theunemployment rate) in coming months’ unemployment rate; however, wehope to see this counteracted by growth in other sectors.”

Brumfield said work is under way to improve the situation at thelumber company, which eliminated about 100 jobs when it was closedby the bank in late September.

“As the team at Columbus Lumber works to put the facility backon line, hopefully we’ll see those numbers improve,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the statewide rankings, Lincoln County has usuallyaveraged somewhere in the lower to mid-30s out of 82 counties.August saw a number 25 ranking for the county.

Surrounding counties fared much better as well, with CopiahCounty dropping from 12.2 percent in July to 10.7 percent inAugust. Lawrence County recorded an 11.0 percent unemployment rate,as compared to July’s 12.3 percent. Franklin County is down from11.6 percent in July to August’s 10.1 percent.

Walthall County dropped from 12.3 percent in July to 11.4 inAugust, while Pike recorded a 10.3 percent rate in August, whichwas also down from 11.1 in July. Amite’s July total of 10.4 percentwas down to 9.1 percent in August, which put them at the number 19spot out of the 82 counties.

Jefferson County still brings up the rear, with an 18.6 Augustunemployment rate, which was down from July’s 21.0 percent.

Brumfield said the winter months usually see a rise inunemployment.

“As the winter months come in, we particularly see some sectorshave unemployment increases because the logging area’s inability toharvest during the weather,” he said. “We’ve already seen thosenumbers in unemployment figures due to the decrease in demand oftimber resources due to the economy. The impact in the wintershouldn’t be to the degree of change that we usually see.”