OUR OPINION: Employment statistics also measure long term

Northeast Mississippi’s marginal drop in unemployment reported for August is encouraging, but the 9.4 percent rate compared to the adjusted 9.5 percent rate for July remains significantly higher than the statewide and national averages.

As Dennis Seid reported in Thursday’s Daily Journal, the 16-county region recorded its second-lowest jobless rate of the year, based on preliminary figures from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. April has been the best month for the region so far, at 8.5 percent.

Mississippi arguably could be said to have a stronger report statewide, with a rate of 8.4 percent in August, a drop of .9 percent from August 2012.

The national rate reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stood at 7.3 percent, a national measure Mississippi often has trailed and at the same time strives to reach. The statewide rate was the lowest since February 2009 in a recession-like economy.

In the region, Lafayette County (6.6 percent) had the lowest jobless rate, closely followed by Union County (6.7).

Ten of the 16 counties recorded rates under 10 percent;

• Alcorn, 7.5 percent

• Tishomingo, 8.9 percent

• Prentiss, 8.8 percent

• Union, 6.7 percent

• Pontotoc, 7.5 percent

• Lee, 7.8 percent

• Itawamba, 8.3 percent

• Calhoun, 9.8 percent

• Oktibbeha, 8.8 percent

• Lafayette, 6.6 percent

The other regional counties were above 10 percent but less than 200 percent:

• Clay, 18.3 percent

• Monroe, 11.5 percent

• Tippah, 10.3 percent

• Benton, 11.3 percent

• Marshall, 11.7 percent

• Chickasaw, 11.9 percent

Continuing unemployment claims statewide during August were 103,782, down from more than 112,000 in July, and nearly 15,000 less than in 2012.

None of the recent new investment jobs announcement are “on line,” but those kinds of ventures make progress possible, along with helping strong existing industries expand and persevere.

The latest report, notably, reflects more non-farm employment, 8,500 for the month and 18,200 higher for the year – positive developments even in a shrinking work force.

Economic statistics seldom are static, and real gains often are measured in the longer term. Mississippi must remain focused on the long term.

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