rate hits 7.6 percent.
By Mack Spencer
Unemployment rose in Calhoun and Chickasaw counties in December.
Calhoun County's jobless rate rose from 9.1 percent in November to 9.7 percent in December.
The number of employed in Calhoun dropped by 140 for December, while the labor pool shrank by 120. The number of unemployed rose from 550 to 570.
In Chickasaw County, 80 fewer people were employed, while the labor pool shrank by 30. The number of unemployed climbed from 870 to 920.
Chickasaw's jobless rate increased from 11.1 percent to 11.8 percent.
In December 2007, Calhoun had an 8.7 percent rate, Chickasaw a 9.5 percent rate.
Chickasaw was in the midst of 22 counties with double-digit unemployment rate, ranking 11th highest in the state, tied with Claiborne County.
Calhoun was tied for 25th highest rate in the state with Quitman County.
Four straight months of declining unemployment rates in Northeast Mississippi were snapped in December as the region hit 9 percent.
As the country - and the state - dipped deeper into recession, NeMiss posted its highest jobless rate since July's 9.9 percent.
The preliminary figures released by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security showed all 16 counties in the region with higher rates than in November.
In fact, seven counties posted gains of at least 1 percent. Eight counties had double-digit unemployment rates.
Lafayette's 4.8 percent was tied for lowest in the state.
Statewide, the jobless rate in December was 7.6 percent, up from 6.6 percent in November. The national rate was 7.1 percent in December.
In NeMiss, the number of employed workers fell slightly from November to December (201,140 to 200,710).
However, based on MDES estimates, the labor force - the pool of people working and looking for work - grew (218,870 to 220,470), thus increasing the unemployment rate.
Overall, the number of unemployed also grew, from 17,730 to 19,760.
A year earlier, in December 2007, the unemployment rate for the region was 7.2 percent.
The rate is likely to climb as several of the 3,000 or so layoffs announced last year in the region take effect.
State and national numbers figure to rise in the coming months as well.
Marianne Hill, the state's senior economist, said Mississippi's unemployment rate likely could reach 10-11 percent at some point during this year.
"I'm not saying we're going to hit double-digit figures for the entire year," she said, "but odds are in a few months we'll hit double digits."-digit figures for the entire year, but odds are in a few months we'll hit double digits," she said.
For the week that ended Jan. 10, the state received 9,281 new jobless claims, compared to 4,168 during the same period last year, according to MDES.
Hill said manufacturing, one of the state's key employment sectors, is likely to be hit by more declines, pointing to Global Insights research, which forecasts a 9 percent decline for the sector.
Lafayette and Rankin counties had the lowest unemployment rates in December at 4.8 percent each, followed by Lamar County at 5 percent.
Holmes County had the highest jobless rate at 16.8 percent followed by Noxubee and Tunica counties at 15.4 percent each.
Daily Journal staff contributed to this report.