Unemployment heading in right direction for Lincoln County

Published 10:06 pm Friday, August 24, 2018

An all-summer-long increase in joblessness in Lincoln County was finally checked in July, sending the unemployment rate back in the right direction for the first time since spring.

The Mississippi Department of Employment Security’s labor rate data for July 2018 shows Lincoln County at 5.1 percent unemployment, its first positive change since a yearlong slide down to 4 percent in March began a three-month growth spurt. The report shows 770 people unemployed in Lincoln County for July, meaning local businesses picked up an additional 60 workers since June’s calculations showed 830 people without a job.

“I know I sound like a broken record, but as students leave the workforce, and some of our local industries have added employees, our local unemployment rate has crept downward,” said Garrick Combs, executive director of the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce. “We hope this trend continues.”

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The MDES report shows Lincoln County’s workforce last month contained 15,130 workers, with 14,360 employed. An additional 120 people joined the labor pool between June and July, and 180 more people are working than last month.

Lincoln County’s statewide unemployment ranking dropped a little despite the addition of jobs, tied at No. 22 with Choctaw and Pearl River counties.

The county continues to lead in Southwest Mississippi by far, and is a full percentage point to the good against its neighbors. Copiah County follows at 6.2 percent unemployment, while Pike is holding at 6.5 percent, Franklin and Lawrence are at 6.7 percent and Adams County is down to 7.2 percent.

Jefferson County holds tightly to its position in the rear with 15.2 percent unemployment, and Rankin County is the state’s most-working county at just 3.6 percent unemployment.

Lincoln County’s recovery of 0.4 percent checks a temporary setback and, hopefully, gets the county back on the road toward capacity employment. This year’s July numbers are certainly better than previous years’ — local unemployment was 6 percent for the same month last year, 6.2 percent in 2016, 6.5 percent in 2015, 7.3 percent in 2014 and 8.1 percent in 2013.

Mississippi took another small step back as a whole in July, with statewide unemployment increasing one-tenth of a percent to 4.8. The state’s workforce grew by 3,400 workers last month to hit a total of 1,284,900 workers, but another 500 people hit the unemployment line, with the number of jobless increasing from 60,600 to 61,100. The number of Mississippians working in July stood at 1,223,800.

While Mississippi slipped a little, the country gained a little. Nationwide unemployment fell form 5 to 3.9 percent in July, as an additional 284,000 workers dropped the number of unemployed from 6,564,000 to 6,280,000. The nation’s workforce grew by 105,000 workers, from 162,140,000 to 162,245,000.

A little less than half — 48 percent of the nation — is employed, with 155,965,000 Americans working.

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.