Job growth largely flat in Mississippi

By Alan Sayre/The Associated Press

Annual job growth in Mississippi remained largely flat in August.

The state had 6,300 more non-farm jobs last month than in August 2010, the Mississippi Department of Employment Security said Wednesday. The July-to-July comparison showed 6,500 more jobs in the state. The figures don’t include seasonal adjustments.

The private sector has added 6,500 jobs over the past year, while government shows an overall decrease of 200. Government employment got a big boost in August with the opening of the school year.

Overall, service-providing jobs accounted for all of the increase in a sharp contrast with the goods-producing sector, which lost 5,000 jobs, or 2.6 percent of its work force, in 12 months.

Manufacturing has taken the biggest hit over the past year with a loss of 4,700 jobs. Mining and logging, which includes petroleum, added 200 jobs, while construction lost 500 jobs.

The biggest gainers were professional-business services with 5,600 jobs and private education and health care with 4,600 jobs.

From July to August, the state showed 7,100 more jobs on a non-seasonally adjusted basis as school employees went back to work.

State economist Darrin Webb said that although there have been monthly fluctuations in jobs, “basically employment is flat in Mississippi.” He said he expected — at best — job growth at an extremely low rate, but warned that the economy is vulnerable.

“I think the risk of recession has increased substantially,” Webb said.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Mississippi’s unemployment rate in August was 10.3 percent, down from 10.4 percent in July, but up from 10.1 percent in August 2010. The national jobless rate was 9.1 percent for August and July and 9.6 percent in August 2010.

Among the state’s metropolitan areas:

— Gulfport-Biloxi gained 900 jobs overall from August 2010 to last month, but showed a drop-off of 1,300 from July. Over the year, goods-producing jobs are down by 200, while service-providing sectors have gained 1,100.

— Hattiesburg gained 800 jobs over year, registering a 1,000-job increase from July. Goods-producing jobs fell by 200 over the year, while service-providing jobs increased by 1,000.

— Jackson registered an annual job gain of 1,400, despite the loss of 600 jobs from July. Goods-producing jobs increased by 900 over the year, while service-providing jobs increased by 500.

— Pascagoula lost 2,000 jobs over the year, while gaining 300 from July. The region lost 1,900 goods-producing jobs and 100 service-providing jobs over 12 months.