The jobless rate for the 16-county region rose from 12 percent to 12.6 percent last month, according to estimates from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.
That’s higher than the state’s 11.2 percent jobless rate and the national rate of 9.3 percent.
Last year in May, the region had an 11.6 percent jobless rate.
After averaging about 11 percent unemployment for all of last year, Northeast Mississippi has averaged 12.7 percent for the first five months of 2010. In February, the jobless rate hit 13.7 percent before falling to 12 percent in both March and April.
Despite recent plant expansion announcements in the area, it’s clear the nascent economic recovery has not yet established a firm foothold in the region.
Caye Home Furnishings in New Albany announced in early June it was closing its operations and laying off 600 people. But on a more hopeful note, Toyota announced it was restarting its plant in Blue Springs, with plans to produce the Corolla sedan by fall 2011.
Toyota will hire about 1,000 workers initially, increasing that number to 2,000 by early 2012. Toyota suppliers are expected to add another 2,000 or more jobs.
In May, the region’s labor force – the number of people with jobs and actively seeking jobs – grew to 207,720 from 206,530 a month earlier. The number of employed was relatively flat – 181,390 to 181,650.
Thus the growth in the labor force, combined with a small drop in the overall number of employed workers, contributed to the rise in the jobless rate.
Still, May marked the 17th time in the past 18 months the region as a whole recorded double-digit unemployment.