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County’s unemployment rate still hovers above 10 percent

The state of Mississippi saw an overallincrease in unemployment for the month of December from 9.7 to 9.9percent, and Lincoln County saw an increase as well, from 10.2 to10.4 percent, according to statistics from the MississippiDepartment of Employment Security.

    Lincoln County still has one of the lowest unemployment rates inSouthwest Mississippi, with only Adams County having a lower rateat 9.5 percent. The national unemployment rate of 8.3 percent ismore than a full-point lower than Mississippi’s.

    Cliff Brumfield, executive vice president of the Brookhaven-LincolnCounty Chamber of Commerce, was not surprised by the increase andsaid the number should recede once the weather warms up and peoplefile their tax returns.

    “I see the reflecting of seasonal changes near the end of the yearin these numbers,” said Brumfield.  “Business tends to slow down at theend of the year especially after the holidays.

    Elsewhere in the area for December, Copiah County had anunemployment rate of 12 percent, while Franklin had an 11.4 percentrate, Amite 11.2 percent, Pike 12 percent, Walthall 11.3 percentand Lawrence was at 11.3 percent.

    Jefferson County had the highest unemployment rate in the area at16.1 percent.

    Rankin County’s unemployment rate of 6.2 percent was the lowest inthe state, while Clay County’s rate of 19.1 percent wassignificantly higher than the next-lowest rate of 17.8 percent inHolmes County.

    Brumfield expects unemployment to quickly rebound when the resultsfor January are announced.

    “You typically see an increase in employment in January,” he said.”I expect January’s (employment) numbers to be higher and continueto see increases next year as some business sectors pick up aftertax returns come in and as the seasons change.”

    Looking ahead, Brumfield thinks the economic recovery going on inthe United States after the Great Recession that began in 2008 willcontinue to gain traction.

    Currently 133,300 people are unemployed statewide. That’s anincrease over the 130,000 people unemployed in December of2010.

    Unemployment figures to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind in2012 as the nation is still recovering from the recession and apresidential election looms large on the horizon.

    The bottom line, according to Brumfield, is that no one should bealarmed by the slight increase.

    “There’s nothing here that’s out of the ordinary from what would beexpected,” Brumfield said.

    He remained optimistic about the rest of the year.

    “For 2012, I’m still seeing increasing recovery, saidBrumfield.  “We haveseveral local employers that have added new jobs in the recent yearand we still have a few job increases coming in the new year, whichwill positively impact the employment rate.”