September sees jump in unemployment totals

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, November 1, 2012

September’s unemployment report was great news for the nation, but not so good for the state of Mississippi or Lincoln County.

     September’s numbers from the Mississippi Department of Labor Security showed an unemployment rate of 9 percent for the state and an even higher rate of 9.4 percent for Lincoln County. This was significantly higher than the national rate of 7.6 percent for September.

     Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Cliff Brumfield said the numbers were disappointing, but not unexpected.

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     “We’ve already seen a decrease in tax collections in September,” he said. “That shows a decline in retail sales and less opportunities for people.”

     Brumfield said despite the report, the area is in much better shape than it’s been.

     “We have still seen a healthy improvement over where we’ve been,” he said, referring to the past few years. “We definitely see our economy on the mend; however, it is still recovering, as is our job market.”

     Mississippi’s unemployment rate was up half a percent from 8.5 percent to 9 from August to September, which bucked the national trend of lower rates in most states. Lincoln County’s rate went from 8.5 percent in August to 9.4 percent in September.

     Elsewhere in Southwest Mississippi, Pike County had a rate of 10.6 percent, Walthall 11.4, Lawrence 10.7, Copiah 10.0, Franklin 9.7 and Amite 10.8.

     Jefferson County continues lag behind the state average, as it once again had the highest rate in the area of 14.7 percent. Clay County’s rate of 17.1 percent was the highest in the state.

     The fourth quarter is the time when businesses usually see their strongest sales figures. Brumfield said looking ahead, the rest of the year is showing promise.

     “As of now, the fourth quarter looks to be healthy,” he said. “Hopefully we see some strong increases in retail activity. All indicators now show that it will be healthy. As of today we expect improvements over September.”

     The next week includes the highly anticipated presidential election. In this election voters appear to be squarely focused on the economy and jobs as the most important motivators that will influence how they vote.

     Brumfield said the area is in much better shape than it was during the last presidential election in 2008, but still can improve.

      “We’ve come a long way since the doldrums of 2008,” he said. “We have numerous new retail business along Brookway Boulevard and downtown. We’ve seen strong growth in our industrial sector with over 200 new jobs in the past 24 months. We’ve seen increased interest in Linbrook Industrial Park.”

     With the increases over the past few years, Brumfield said he’s looking forward to the future.

     “We’ve had some losses as well, but a strong net gain in businesses and jobs. We need to see those continue to increase,” he said. “We’re also excited about more high-paying jobs for our citizens. Our community is hungry for it and they deserve it.”