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Unemployment up, but worker drain stopped

Unemployment in Lincoln County inched up a few percentage points in November, but a three-month slide in workers and the workforce stabilized.

The Mississippi Department of Employment Security’s report on November labor rates shows the county’s unemployment rate at 4.3 percent, a slight increase from October’s 4 percent total that was as low as the rate had been since March. November’s increase came about due to the addition of 30 more workers to the labor pool while the number of job-holders remained steady.

The county’s workforce increased from 14,560 workers to 14,590 from October to November, the first increase of workers since July. The workforce has shrunk by 540 eligible workers since that month, while the number of employed workers has fallen by 390 — but no jobs were added or lost since October, with last month’s total of employed workers flat at 13,970.

There are currently 620 unemployed workers in Lincoln County.

Summer numbers are usually inflated by students working part-time and temporary jobs while on break from school, and late-year numbers jump back up as businesses take on additional workers to meet Christmas shopping demands.

The bump up in unemployment moves Lincoln County down to No. 33 in the state, tied with Jones, Monroe, Neshoba and Newton counties. Rankin County is the state’s best for workers at 3.1 percent unemployment, while Jefferson County ranked No. 82 at 9.4 percent.

Lincoln County is tops in Southwest Mississippi, with Copiah County following at 4.9 percent unemployment, Pike County at 5 percent, Franklin County at 5.2 percent, Lawrence County at 5.4 percent and Adams County at 5.3 percent. Nearby Simpson County is a healthy 3.8 percent, while Marion County is just behind Lincoln at 4.4 percent.

Lincoln County’s 12-month moving average is 4.6 percent unemployment, with an average of 680 workers unemployed. November’s report is the lowest in a five-year comparison for the 11th month of the year, with the county in at 4.4 percent in 2017, 4.9 percent in 2016, 5.8 percent in 2015, 5.9 percent in 2014 and 6.6 percent in 2013.

On the state level, the number of workers employed, workforce and number of unemployed workers all fell from October to November to leave the state’s unemployment rate unchanged at 4.7 percent. The state’s labor force dropped by 2,200 workers to 1,284,300, while the number of job-holders fell by 1,500 to 1,224,200. Unemployment fell from 60,800 to 60,100.

Nationwide, the pool of workers increased slightly between October and November, from 162,637,000 to 162,770,000, and the number of employed workers improved alongside — from 156,562,000 to 156,795,000. The number of unemployed Americans fell by 100,000 to 5,975,000 and the national unemployment rate held steady at 4.7 percent.

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.