By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
The unemployment rate for Northeast Mississippi fell to 10.2 percent in August, the best showing this year and the lowest since November’s 10.4 percent.
Up until August, the jobless rate for the 16-county region had averaged 12.8 percent, peaking with February’s 13.7 percent. In July, the rate was 13.4 percent.
According to figures provided by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, the region added about 1,600 jobs in August compared to a month earlier.
But also helping to lower the jobless rate was a large decrease in the labor force, which is the number of people eligible for work or actively looking for work.
That figure fell by about 5,600. People who gave up looking for jobs are included in this number.
Also, unemployment traditionally drops with the start of the school year. The labor force shrinks and teachers return to work.
In fact, MDES said the largest employment gains in the state in August were in educational and health services, government, professional and business services and leisure and hospitality.
But a lower unemployment rate doesn’t necessarily mean more jobs.
For example, according to the MDES figures, the number of employed in Alcorn County was unchanged in August, even though the unemployment rate fell from 13.2 percent in July to 10 percent in August.
And in Calhoun County, the rate fell from 12.1 percent to 9 percent, yet the total number of employed actually fell by 30 people.
Still, any drop in the unemployment rate is good news as economic recovery tries to take hold.
Statewide, the jobless rate in August was 10 percent, down eight-tenths from July.
Initial unemployment insurance claims dropped slightly from 15,060 in July to 14,829 in August. A year ago, initial claims were 13,474. Continuing claims rose from more than 159,000 in July to more than 178,000 last month.
Thirty-eight of the state’s counties recorded jobless rates of 10 percent or higher, including 11 of the 16 counties in Northeast Mississippi.
But all of the region’s counties posted lower rates in August than in July.
Lafayette’s 6.9 percent was the lowest in the region and the sixth-lowest statewide.
Rankin County posted the state’s lowest rate at 5.1 percent. The highest was Noxubee County’s 18.5 percent.