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More find jobs, but unemployment rate rises

More people found jobs in Lincoln County in March than the previous month but the unemployment rate percentage increased.

The county had 790 unemployed persons in February — down from 910 in January — and only 720 in March, but because the labor force dropped in numbers each month also, the percentage has risen. The seasonally-adjusted rate for the first two months of the year was 4.8 percent, but it stands at 5 percent for March.

Statewide, the rate increased by one-tenth of a percentage point to 4.9 percent, remaining below 5 percent for 18 months in a row. The national rate of 3.8 percent did not change from February but is down from 4 percent from one year previously.

The Mississippi Department of Employment Security divides unemployment rates into four levels for the current month — 3.5-4.0 percent, 4.1-5.3 percent, 5.4-8.3 percent and 8.4-13.4 percent. Only nine of the state’s 82 counties were ranked into the lowest percentage level, including the nearly-constant no. 1 county of Rankin, at 3.5. Five counties sat squarely on the bottom, and typically are in this range: Jefferson, Wilkinson, Issaquena, Humphreys and Holmes.

Though Rankin County remained in the no. 1 slot with the lowest rate of 3.5, 2,610 people were without jobs out of a labor force of more than 75,100. Jefferson County had the highest percentage at 13.4, though only 260 reported they remained without work. The labor force there is a mere 1,940.

The state’s other 68 counties ranged from 4.1 to 8.3. Lincoln once again falls near the middle of the pack. Franklin, Copiah, Lawrence, Pike, Amite and Walthall counties all ranked in the mid-ranges of 6-8 percent, as well.

The 12-month moving average for Lincoln County was 4.8 percent, with an average number of 1,210 unemployed individuals. Although the rate was 5 for March — up from 4.3 one year ago and 4.9 two years ago — the corresponding unemployment rate for the county was 5.6 and 5.7 in 2016 and 2015, respectively. The rate was 6.6 five years ago, in March 2014. So the county has shown an overall downward trend in the number of persons actively seeking employment.

Monthly estimates of the labor force, employment, unemployment and unemployment rate are generated by the Local Area Unemployment Statistics Program, a cooperative effort between the Bureau of Labor Statistics and State Employment Security agencies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines an individual employed if they did any work at all for pay or profit during the survey week; this includes all part-time and temporary work as well as full time year round employment. Unemployed individuals are those who do not have a job, have actively looked for work during the past four weeks and are currently available for work. The sum of employed and unemployed produces the Civilian Labor Force.