By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
The unemployment rate for Northeast Mississippi rose for the first time this year in May, but it remained below 10 percent for the fourth consecutive month.
According to data from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, the region’s 16 counties had a cumulative 9.4 percent jobless rate, up from April’s 8.9 percent.
The state’s unemployment rate was 8.7 percent, down from 8.8 percent.
However, the state figures are based on seasonally adjusted data, which removes the effects of regular patterns such as holidays, opening and closing of school and other recurring events.
County-by-county numbers are released as unadjusted figures only.
On an unadjusted basis, the state’s unemployment rate was 8.9 percent in May, up five-tenths of a point from April.
Still, the unemployment report for Northeast Mississippi is encouraging. Up until February, Northeast Mississippi had been saddled with double-digit unemployment rates for all but one of the previous 37 months.
The state had 28 consecutive months of double-digit rates ending in January.
The four consecutive months of sub-10 percent unemployment is the longest stretch since 2008.
Statewide, the number of unemployed rose 7,700 in May, while the total number of employed increased 10,000.
According to MDES, the number of nonfarm jobs dropped 2,700 from April to May and 3,900 from a year earlier.
Industry sectors with the largest employment losses in May were educational and health services and professional and business services and construction.
Leisure and hospitality saw the biggest increase.
In May, 23 of Mississippi’s 82 counties posted unemployment rates less than or equal to the unadjusted state rate of 8.9 percent. In Northeast Mississippi, that included Alcorn (8.6), Itawamba (7.6), Lafayette (6.4), Lee (8.4), Pontotoc (7.9) and Union (8.3).
Nine of the region’s 16 counties recorded rates under 10 percent, compared to 14 counties in April.
The labor force in the region – the number of people with jobs or actively looking for jobs – increased from 219,800 to 223,840 as students and teachers ended the school year. That helped push the number of unemployed from 19,530 to 20,950.