Jobless situation improving in county, state, nation

Published 2:00 pm Sunday, October 10, 2021

In August, Lincoln County had an available labor force of 14,780 people age 16 and older who were working or available for work; 820 were unemployed, or 5.6% of the labor force. The county had 950 unemployed from a work force of 15,180 in July — a drop of 400 in the work force and 130 fewer without work.

One year ago in August 2020, the county’s labor force was 14,550 and 1,060 were without work. Lincoln County has ranged from 5.3% to 7.3% unemployment in August since 2016, and its 12-month average is 5.9%, or 870 people. These most recent numbers then show Lincoln’s unemployment to be the lowest for the past 12 months.

Mississippi’s unemployment rate for August was 5.9% — 75,200 people without work. This is down from July’s 87,000 (6.7%) and August 2020’s 96,900 individuals (7.7%). The state’s 12-month average is 6.4%, or 81,500 people. The state was below average in August, in a good way. Though the labor force also decreased, but by less than 1,000.

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The amount of state-paid unemployment insurance in August was more than $9.47 million for 84,446 initial and continued claims. This was down from July’s payouts of more than $11.34 million for 160,687 claims.

One year ago, there were 574,942 claims and more than $74.83 million was paid in unemployment insurance for August 2020.

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell during the first week of October by 38,000, the first drop in four weeks, according to the Labor Department. It’s a sign that the U.S. job market and economy are continuing a steady recovery from last year’s coronavirus recession.

Overall, the job market has been rebounding with surprising strength since spring 2020. More than 22 million jobs were cut in March and April 2020 due to shut downs and hour restrictions from the pandemic.

So far this year, employers have been adding an average of 586,000 jobs per month and September’s report is expected to show an additional 488,000 jobs. Companies are now complaining they can’t find workers fast enough to fill job openings, a record 10.9 million in July.

In Mississippi, once again Rankin County had the lowest unemployment rate, though its 4% represented 3,060 people out of a work force of 76,110 — the fourth largest county work force in the state, behind Hinds (104,910 with 6.4% unemployed), De Soto (94,550 with 4.5% unemployment) and Harrison (89,640 with 5.6%).

Jefferson County remains the holder of the highest unemployment rate, though its 18.6% represents only 350 people, from a labor force of 1,880 individuals. It has the third-smallest work force in the state.

Issaquena County has the smallest available work force — 330 people, of which 30 (9%) were unemployed in August. Sharkey County has the second-smallest labor force, with 1,420 people. In August, 130 (9.3%) of its residents were unemployed.

Among the counties bordering Lincoln, unemployment rates ranged from 7% in Copiah to 18.6% in Jefferson. Others were: Franklin, 7.4%; Walthall, 7.5%; Lawrence, 7.7%; Pike, 7.8% and Amite, 8.3%.

Monthly estimates of the labor force, unemployment and other rates are generated by the Local Area Unemployment Statistics Program, a cooperate program between the Bureau of Labor Statistics and State Employment Security Agencies. Persons are counted only once even if they hold multiple jobs. Data is published by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.