Seasonal influences, including an influx of students into the work force, helped propel Northeast Mississippi’s May unemployment rate to 11.6 percent.
That’s up 1.2 percent from April and the highest rate this year, according to figures provided by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. It also tops the state and national averages.
MDES estimates the region’s labor force – the number of people employed or seeking employment – jumped from 218,680 in April to 220,080 in May. At the same time, the number of employed in the region fell from 195,870 to 194,630.
Those combined factors led to an increase in the number of unemployed, from 22,810 in April to 25,450 in May and the big jump in the overall unemployment rate.
Still it’s clear the nation’s economy has hit the region hard. Last year, there were 200,010 employed in the region, which means there are 5,380 fewer people with jobs.
Fifteen of the 16 counties in Northeast Mississippi posted higher unemployment rates.
While Tishomingo County’s May figure dropped half of a percentage point, the number of employed actually dropped a little. But a decrease in the available labor force was even larger, more than offsetting that gain.
Calhoun County recorded the biggest month-to-month unemployment increase – 2.6 percent – but the number of employed dropped only from 5,300 to 5,280. However, Calhoun’s labor force jumped from 5,990 to 6,140, affecting the unemployment rate calculation.
The statewide jobless rate grew 1 percentage point, to 9.6 percent, in May.
Last year, the statewide figure was 6.9 percent while the region’s unemployment rate was 9.1 percent.
This year, the number of unemployed statewide grew by 14,300 while the number of employed dropped by 6,500.
Fifty-four of the state’s 81 counties recorded double-digit unemployment rates, including 12 of the 16 counties in Northeast Mississippi.
Nationwide, the May jobless rate was 9.1 percent, compared to 5.2 percent a year earlier.
Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal