By Sarah Robinson/NEMS Daily Journal
Key economic indicators released this week indicate that Mississippi’s economic recovery progress is slow.
Mississippi was one of 25 states to see the rate of unemployment rise in January, and currently has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.
The adjusted seasonal unemployment rate for the state was 9.3 percent in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, up 0.4 percent from a month earlier.
Darrin Webb, state economist at the University Research Center said, “The general story for Mississippi has been a very, very slow recovery.”
In Northeast Mississippi, unemployment climbed back into double digits in January.
The 16 counties of the region saw its jobless rate climb to 11.1 percent in January, up from 9.6 percent in December.
While Mississippi’s unemployment rate hovers around 9 percent, neighboring states Alabama (6.9 percent) and Louisiana (5.9 percent) seem to be faring better.
The national unemployment rate is currently 7.9 percent, up from 7.8 percent in December 2012 but down 0.4 since January 2012.
Although Mississippi has seen the addition of 14,700 jobs to the workforce since January 2012, the performance is lackluster compared to neighboring states.
“Other states, their private sector has done better than ours has,” Webb said.
Webb said that tornados and flooding that occurred in Mississippi in 2011 could be partially to blame for the sluggish rates. He also said that more time is needed to analyze the adjusted rates to get a clearer picture of what is happening.
Rankin County maintained the lowest jobless rate the state, though up 0.7 percent from December. Tunica County now has the highest jobless rate at 20.9 percent.
Lee County, the largest county in Northeast Mississippi, saw its unemployment rate rise from 8.8 in December to 10.0 percent in January.
County-level rates aren’t adjusted to cancel out predictable seasonal changes.
Union County had Northeast Mississippi’s lowest rate at 8.9 percent, which was the eighth-lowest in the state.
Pontotoc (9.3 percent), Union (8.9), Lafayette (9.0)and Alcorn (9.9) all stayed below double-digit levels.