By NEMS Daily Journal
Northeast Mississippi’s unemployment stayed under 10 percent for the third month in a row, but not by much.
Preliminary numbers released by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security on Wednesday showed the 16-county region posted a 9.7 percent jobless rate in May, up from 8.5 percent in April.
Statewide, the unemployment rate was 9.1 percent, down from 9.2 percent a month earlier.
The national rate was 7.6 percent. Mississippi tied with Illinois for the second-highest jobless rate in the nation.
State and national figures are based on seasonally adjusted data, which means the numbers take into account the effects of regular or seasonal patterns like school and holidays.
The county unemployment figures by MDES are unadjusted.
In Northeast Mississippi, eight counties posted jobless rates under 10 percent, led by Lafayette County’s 7.3 percent. Union County was a tick behind at 7.5 percent. Lafayette had the state’s eighth-lowest unemployment rate, Union was ninth.
Clay County’s 18.5 percent rate was the highest in the region and state.
For the 16 counties of Northeast Mississippi, the labor force grew in May slightly to 221,910, about 500 more people than in April.
The labor force is the number of people employed or actively seeking employment.
In May, the number of employed was 200,490, about 2,000 fewer than a month earlier.
Meanwhile, the number of initial unemployment claims statewide jumped from 11,478 to 16,244. However, May’s figure was only a little more than what was posted a year earlier.
The average weekly benefit was $184.73.
Continued unemployment claims saw the biggest change, with 97,411 in May and 91,790 in April. Both figures were far lower than in May of last year, when there were more than 105,000 continuing claims.
Through the first five months of the year, Northeast Mississippi unemployment rate averages 9.8 percent. For the same period in 2012, the jobless rate averaged 9.4 percent.