Region’s jobless rate drops

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

Northeast Mississippi’s unemployment rate in February fell to 9.7 percent, down from January’s rate of 11.1 percent.
Statewide, unemployment rose from 9.3 percent to 9.6 percent. Mississippi was one of 12 states that saw jobless rates rise in February. The state is tied with California and Nevada for the nation’s highest unemployment rate.
Twenty-two states posted lower rates last month compared to January. As reported by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security on Wednesday, the number of people who reported having a job in the Magnolia State fell slightly, and the state’s labor force shrank.
The national unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent in February from 7.9 percent in January.
In the 16 counties of Northeast Mississippi, the labor force grew slightly, and an additional 4,000 people were employed.
However, those county figures are not seasonally adjusted, which means the numbers don’t show the effects of regular or seasonal patterns like school and holidays.
State and national figures are based on seasonally adjusted data. Nevertheless, February’s jobless rate for the region was two-tenths lower than February 2012.
Seven of the region’s counties posted rates under 10 percent in February, compared to four a month earlier.
Lafayette County’s 7.7 percent rate was the lowest in Northeast Mississippi and was sixth-lowest statewide. Clay County’s 19.3 percent was the highest rate in the region and second-highest in the state.
Meanwhile, initial unemployment claims statewide declined from 13,777 in January to 8,323 in February. Continuing claims fell by 17,000.
The average benefit paid, about $190, totaled nearly $14.4 million in February, down from $16.4 million in January and a decline from nearly $15.8 million in February 2012.