Region’s unemployment rate jumps to 13.7 percent

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

After averaging an unemployment rate of more than 11 percent in 2009, Northeast Mississippi entered uncharted territory for the first month of 2010.
According to preliminary figures from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security compiled by the Daily Journal, the region’s jobless rate rose to 13.7 percent in January.
It was 11.3 percent a month earlier.
Statewide, the unemployment rate was 12 percent, up from 10.3 percent in December.
But with those numbers comes this caveat from MDES:
“At this time of year, work is performed to revise labor force estimates from the previous year … it should be noted that the January 2010 data are not strictly comparable with the data for December or any other month in 2009.”
The agency said revised data for the year should be released in time for the February unemployment estimates.
“At that time, comparison of data across years will be valid,” MDES said.
Indeed, at first glance, the numbers appear alarming:
n The labor force – the number of people with jobs or actively seeking jobs – dropped from 217,100 in December to 206,820 in January.
n The number of employed fell from 192,570 to 178,580.
n The number of unemployed jumped from 24,530 to 28,240.
Since the unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the number of unemployed by the labor force figures, the large swing in MDES’ estimates from December to January suggests that the numbers are skewed as a result.
But if the January figures do hold up, they would be among the highest recorded for the region in recent memory.
Each of the 16 counties in the region posted double-digit jobless rates, ranging from a low of 10.2 percent in Lafayette County to a high of 21.2 percent in Clay County.
Statewide, all but eight of 82 counties had double-digit rates. Noxubee and Holmes had the highest rate at 23.1 percent. Rankin County held the lowest at 8 percent.