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Unemployment up some locally, down nationwide

Lincoln County’s unemployment rate was at 5.1 percent in December, according to the latest numbers from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.

The number of available workers in the county is 14,570, a labor force of more than 250 fewer workers than where the county stood four months prior. Of that force, 750 were unemployed in the year’s final month, on par with the year’s overall average.

Lincoln Countians saw the lowest unemployment rate of the past five years in 2017 when it dropped to 4.6 percent. With the current 5.1 rate, the area is still far shy of the highest number of unemployed workers in the county in that same time period — 6.8 percent back in 2013.

Across Mississippi’s 82 counties, Lincoln sits at number 40, halfway between the high of 12.1 in Jefferson County and the low of 3.4 in Rankin County. The state average is 4.7, translating to 60,500 individuals looking for work and more than 1.2 million employed. The labor force statewide was down by 3,100 from the previous month but up 4,400 from December 2017.

The national unemployment rate was 3.7 for the second time in 2018, tied for the lowest number of people looking for work in the U.S. since 1969, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than 142 million more workers entered the labor force in December, meaning 136 million of those found employment.

Neighboring Mississippi counties did not fare as well, percentage-wise.

Lawrence County had 250 workers unemployed from a labor force of 4,580, resulting in a 5.4 percent unemployment rate. The year’s average was 5.9.

Copiah County had 680 unemployed workers from a labor force of 11,310, resulting in a 6 percent rate of unemployment. The year’s average was 5.4, however.

Franklin County only saw 180 individuals seeking employment, but the percentage was 6.5, due to a lower labor force of 2,750. The year’s average was notably lower, at 5.8 percent.

Lincoln County’s average for the year was 4.6 percent.

All four counties saw their highest unemployment rates over the past five years in 2013, and the lowest in 2017.