Jobless rate sees summer spike

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lincoln County’s unemployment rate saw an expected summer increase and matched the state’s jobless rate in June, according to the latest totals from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.

     The jobless rates of both Lincoln County and the state as a whole rose from 8.9 percent in May to 9.8 percent in June.

     Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Cliff Brumfield was not surprised by the jump in unemployment.

     “The June increase was expected, as unemployment rates do have somewhat of an annual cycle,” he said. “June and July are some of the highest of the year, because some of the people looking for jobs are students looking for summer work.

     Lincoln was the only county in Southwest Mississippi whose rate stayed under 10 percent. Elsewhere in the region, Pike’s rate stood at 11.8 percent, Walthall 12.0, Lawrence 11.5, Copiah 10.6, Franklin 10.7 and Amite at 11.4.

     Jefferson County had the highest rate in the state for June and once again was the highest in the area, checking in at 17.3 percent. Rankin County had the lowest rate at 5.9 percent.

     The unemployment rate has increased in every month since April for the nation, state and Lincoln County.

     Brumfield said agriculture also plays a role in the unemployment rate.

     “In agriculture, this is the time of year crops don’t have to be attended to as much, which affects some parts of the state more than others,” he said.

     Overall, Brumfield indicated the jobless rate is worth paying attention to, but overreaction was not needed.

     “It does bear concern in watching, but the fact that it has increased is something that was to be expected,” he said. “However, any time the number increases we wish it was lower. Unfortunately it’s part of an annual cycle we’re in, along with the continued recovery of our economy.”

     Brumfield added not to expect a downward shift in numbers until the August report is released.

     “We typically see an increase throughout the entire country in June and July,” he said. “We’ll see numbers decrease when we move into the August report. That should come out in October.”

     Unemployment could become even more of an issue with the November presidential election approaching.

     “I would certainly hope to that it becomes more of an issue as we get closer to the election,” Brumfield said. “I would also like to see more of a discussion about the creation of jobs in America instead of on foreign shores.”

     Brumfield also said he’d like to see more of a focus on helping business owners.

     “It would also be encouraging to hear debate topics that centered around federal issues concerning job creators, employers and business owners,” he said. “Most people are not aware of the tremendous amount of taxes, paperwork, fees, and penalties on the very people that create jobs for Americans.”

     Brumfield went on to say that someone has to be the one to take a risk.

     “We spend a lot of time speaking about things that don’t affect the bottom line of most Americans …,” he said. “Someone has to be there taking the risk and making the paychecks to keep the boat floating. Too many times they’ve been left out of the discussion, when without them no one has a place to work.”