Regional jobless rate dips again to 10.6%

While unemployment remains stubbornly high in Northeast Mississippi, the jobless rate for the 16-county region fell for the fourth consecutive month.
Mississippi Department of Employment Security preliminary figures show that the region’s unemployment rate was 10.6 percent in April, down from 11 percent in March.
In 2010, the April jobless rate also was 11 percent.
Still, the region has endured historically high unemployment for more than two years. Last month’s jobless rate was the 26th time in the past 27 months that it has been in double digits.
Fourteen of the region’s counties recorded lower rates in April than March.
Northeast Mississippi’s labor force – the number of people with jobs and those actively looking for them – grew more than 2,400 in April. But area employers put them to work and then some, adding nearly 3,200 jobs. That brought the number of unemployed down from 24,150 to 23,420.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, the state’s unemployment rate last month rose slightly, from 10.2 percent to 10.4 percent. The April 2010 rate was 10.6 percent.
Nationally, the jobless rate rose from 8.8 percent in March to 9 percent in April. However, it was lower than the April 2010 rate of 9.8 percent.
Only national and state figures are seasonally adjusted. The county and regional rates are calculated using non-seasonally adjusted data.
MDES said, 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.
Government employment in the state 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.
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.

NEMS Daily Journal and The Associated Press

Click video to hear audio