By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
Although the unemployment rate for the 16 counties of Northeast Mississippi rose slightly, more people were working last month.
The Mississippi Department of Employment Security released its preliminary employment figures Wednesday.
Statewide, the jobless rate was 9.8 percent in September, compared to 10 percent in August and 10 percent in September 2009.
In Northeast Mississippi, unemployment was 10.5 percent in September, up from 10.3 percent in August and down from 10.8 percent in September 2009.
For the year, unemployment in the region is running at 12.3 percent.
But while the rate ticked up a notch in September, more people had jobs.
According to MDES figures, 186,980 people were employed in the region, compared to 183,150 in August. But an increase of more than 5,400 in the labor force – the number of people eligible work or actively looking for work – pushed higher the number of unemployed, resulting in a pickup in the jobless rate.
Thirteen of the 16 counties posted higher employment rates as a result.
For example, Lee County’s jobless rate increased from 9.4 percent to 10.4 percent, even as 80 jobs were added. However, the labor force grew by 470 people.
In fact, all but Chickasaw and Tishomingo counties added workers in September.
Across the state, 18 of the 82 counties recorded unemployment rates lower than the state’s average. Rankin County had the state’s lowest rate at 6.1 percent, followed by Madison County at 6.9 percent. The state’s highest jobless rate was in Noxubee County, at 19.9 percent.
Lafayette’s 7.1 percent was the lowest in the region and the fourth-lowest statewide.
According to MDES, government employment statewide has fallen by 5,800 jobs, or 2.3 percent, since September 2009. The wide-ranging sector of professional-business services added 3,700, private education and health services gained 1,800, trade, transportation and utilities jumped 1,000 jobs and leisure-hospitality added 900.
The mining-logging sector, which includes petroleum, has added 700 jobs in the past year. But construction has lost 2,900 jobs and manufacturing has fell by 4,100 jobs over 12 months.