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Lincoln County makes small gains in employment — Labor rate beats state and national average

The state’s most recent labor statistics show Lincoln County has dropped a full percentage point of unemployment over the previous 12 months and continues to inch ahead with small gains in employment and workforce size.

The Mississippi Department of Employment Security’s labor rate data from March 2018 shows the county’s unemployment rate has fallen to 4 percent, continuing a big slide down from 5 percent in March 2017 after dropping another one-tenth of a percentage point since February of this year. Sixty people found jobs between February and March this year, and although the number of unemployed rose from 570 to 600, the 30-person increase was due to an equal number of new workers entering the workforce.

“I’m pleased with the numbers, obviously — that’s very good for the community. But mainly what I like to see is that we compare favorably with our neighbors in the Southwest Mississippi region,” said Garrick Combs, executive director of the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce. “I like to make sure Lincoln County is at the forefront of the Southwest Mississippi labor market, that our people are working in comparison to other cities in the region. I think we’ve consistently been at the bottom of those levels.”

Lincoln County’s workforce now holds 14,470 workers, with 13,900 employed. The county’s unemployment rate remains tied with Forrest, Prentiss and Simpson counties for No. 17 in the state. The lowest unemployment rate in Mississippi belongs to Rankin County, with a rate of 3 percent, also down one-tenth of a point since February.

As for Southwest Mississippi, Lincoln County leads the pack in unemployment by far. Following are Copiah County with 4.6 percent, Lawrence County with 4.7 percent, Pike County with 5 percent and Franklin County with 5.1 percent.

Neighboring Jefferson County continues to bring up the rear in joblessness statewide, though even its 12.6 percent is down 1.1 percent from February’s 13.7 percent. Issaquena County is ranked No. 81 in unemployment with 10.8 percent, and it, too, has seen movement toward the plus side since February’s 11.1 percent.

The good news isn’t just limited to Lincoln County, as unemployment numbers are trending in the right direction statewide and nationally.

The Magnolia State’s unemployment rate for March is 4.3 percent, continuing a slow year-long drop from last March’s 5.1 percent. Unemployment has dropped down roughly one-tenth of one percent every month since then, except for a temporary hold at 4.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 and two slightly bigger drops between December 2017 and January, and between February and March this year.

The state’s short-term data looks good, too. Mississippi added 1,700 people to the labor force between February and March, and 3,700 people found jobs to increase the employment number to 1,217,900. The number of unemployed statewide fell by 2,000 people to 54,600.

Mississippi’s unemployment rate is 4.3 percent, still higher than the national rate of 4.1 percent.

America currently has 161,548,000 people in the workforce, an increase of 54,000 workers since February. A total of 474,000 workers found a job between February and March, bringing nationwide employment up to 154,877,000 workers. The national unemployment rate fell by 0.3 percent in the last 30 days for which statistics are available.

Monthly estimates of the labor force, employment, unemployment and the unemployment rate are generated by the Local Area Unemployment Statistics Program, a cooperative program between the Bureau of Labor Statistics and State Employment Security Agencies.

Each person who is over the age of 16 and who is not in an institution such as prison or mental hospital or on active duty with the Armed Forces is only counted in one group — employed, unemployed or not in the labor force.

An individual is considered employed if they did any work for pay or profit within the previous week, including all part-time and temporary work as well as full-time employment. Unemployed individuals are those who do not have a job, have actively looked for work within the previous four weeks and currently available for work.