By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
While the unemployment numbers nationwide have improved for months, it’s taken Mississippi – and by extension, the 16 counties of Northeast Mississippi – a little longer to see their numbers fall.
But for the second straight month, the jobless rate for the region did drop, this time to its lowest level since 2008.
According to preliminary figures provided by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, the March unemployment rate was 8.9 percent for Northeast Mississippi. That’s a full percentage point lower than the February rate.
It also marked the first time since 2008 that the region posted back-to-back jobless rates under 10 percent. In fact, up until February, the region had been hobbled by double-digit unemployment rates for all but one of the previous 37 months.
March’s figure is the lowest since the 8.9 percent recorded in November 2008, as well as the first time since then that unemployment for the region was below 9 percent.
Also for the second consecutive month, every county recorded a lower unemployment rate than the previous month.
Eleven of the 16 counties were under 10 percent. Eight counties were lower than the state’s 9 percent jobless rate, which is sixth-tenths of a percentage point lower than a month earlier.
That’s the lowest level since April 2009, and well below the 10.5 percent unemployment rate of March 2011.
Northeast Mississippi’s unemployment rate a year earlier was 11.2 percent.
Overall employment for the region went up, with an additional 1,200 jobs more in March than February. The number of unemployed also dropped, from 21,870 in February to 19,650 in March. However, aiding both figures was the fact that the labor force – the number of people employed or actively seeking employment fell by 1,000.
Nationally, the unemployment rate in March was 8.2 percent.