County’s jobless rate lowest in north half of Mississippi

Union County unemployment rate for July was 6.8 percent, slightly better than June’s 6.9 percent and again lowest among not only Northeast Mississippi counties but this month the entire north half of the state as well.

Figures released by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security listed Union as having the eighth-lowest jobless rate statewide. Most counties with even lower rates were in the Jackson or Hattiesburg area.

“It think it’s fabulous,” Mayor Tim Kent. “It’s great for our community.”

“Of course Toyota probably had something to do with it but we don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket,” he said. “It’s a combination of factors. It appears there is growth in our retail market with them hiring more than one person.”

Perhaps even more important, Kent said, “The people in this community are just willing to work. If a job plays out or something happens, they go out and get another. Most don’t want to sit at home and collect unemployment checks.”

“We have been blessed with a low unemployment rate and we need to be vigilant about educating our next generation of employees,” Union County Development Association Executive Director Phil Nanney said.

Union County once again beat Lafayette County, which for years had the lowest rates in the state.

Clay County still suffered the highest rate among the 15-county area, reporting 18.2 percent – third-worst in the entire state.

The unemployment rate statewide for July was 8.6 percent, considerably higher than Union County, but the jobless rate for the entire country was 6.5 percent.

Union County has generally had better rates than many of its neighbors. We did hit 15.8 percent in April 1975, then dropped back for several years. Our high was probably 17.3 percent in April 1982 with double-digit unemployment continuing through 1982 and the first half of 1983. The county also had a high period from January 2009 all the way to October 2011 when the jobless rate finally dropped back to single digits.

According to MDES, Union County had a July labor force of 13,080 with 12,190 of them employed and 890 unemployed. Forty-nine individuals filed new unemployment claims in Union County in July and 646 persons continued claims, both numbers lower than for June this year or July 2013.

The mayor said he had been afraid that recent layoffs at the hospital would bump up the unemployment rate but if it did, it was not by much.


July unemployment rates for area counties included:

Alcorn – 7.0

Benton – 10.6

Calhoun – 9.3

Chickasaw – 11.8

Clay – 18.2

Itawamba – 8.7

Lafayette – 7.0

Lee – 8.5

Marshall – 10.0

Monroe – 12.5

Pontotoc – 7.7

Prentiss – 9.0

Tippah – 9.7

Tishomingo – 8.4

Union – 6.8