Job growth rate slows in Mississippi

The yearly job growth rate dropped in Mississippi last month as a jigsaw of private-sector industries provided all of the new employment.

The Department of Employment Security says, on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, there were 6,600 more non-farm jobs — or 0.6 percent — in April than in April 2010. The March-to-March growth figure was 9,200 jobs.

The goods-producing sector continued to suffer from the bumpy economic recovery, showing a loss of 4,000 jobs — or 2 percent — over the last 12 months. That sector includes timber, petroleum, manufacturing and construction. Private service-providing jobs rose by 15,900, or 2.5 percent.

In the meantime, government employment in Mississippi has fallen by 5,300 jobs, or 2.1 percent, since April 2010.

State Economist Darrin Webb said the latest report mirrored a national trend showing a slowing of job growth. He said high oil prices, combined with the earthquake disaster in Japan, likely joined forces in a chilling effect on many employers who might be hiring. Job growth likely would be boosted by lower petroleum prices, he said.

“It does show how fragile this economy is,” Webb said. “Any jolt could send us into negative territory.”

On a percentage basis, manufacturing is down the most over the past 12 months, showing a decline of 3,400 jobs, or 2.4 percent. Professional and business services grew by 8,600 jobs, or 9.6 percent, to be the largest gainer. That was followed by private education-health services, which grew by 2.9 percent, or 3,800 jobs, and leisure-hospitality, which grew by 1.4 percent, or 1,700 jobs.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Mississippi’s unemployment rate in April was 10.4 percent, up from 10.2 percent in March. The April 2010 jobless rate was 10.6 percent.

Among Mississippi’s metropolitan areas:

— Gulfport-Biloxi gained an overall 800 jobs from April 2010 to April 2011. The area added 1,500 service-providing jobs and lost 700 goods-producing jobs.

— Hattiesburg is largely unchanged over the past 12 months, showing a drop of 100 non-farm jobs over 12 months, all in the goods-producing sector.

— Jackson has added 2,000 jobs over the past 12 month, including 900 in the goods-producing sector — 800 of those involving construction — and 1,100 in the service-providing sector.

— Pascagoula is down 300 jobs over the past 12 months. Goods-producing jobs have fallen by 1,800, while the service-providing sector has added 1,500 jobs.

Alan Sayre/The Associated Press