August 18, 2012 8:34:30 PM
JACKSON -- Unemployment rose in Mississippi in July for the second straight month to 9.1 percent as the state's job market continued to sputter, according to numbers released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The state's jobless rate rose from 8.8 percent in June. It had been falling from its post-recession peak of 10.9 percent in July 2011. But that progress has reversed as the national economy struggles.
The number of unemployed Mississippians rose to more than 121,000 from 118,000 in June, well below 147,000 from a year ago.
Despite the discouraging news in recent months, the 1.8 percentage point drop in the unemployment rate over the last 12 months tied Mississippi with Florida and Nevada for biggest drop in jobless rates among the states.
The unemployment rate is calculated by a survey that asks how many people are looking for a job. A second survey each month asks employers how many people are on their payrolls, a measure that many economists look to as their top labor market indicator.
That payroll survey fell for the third straight month to 1.084 million, according to numbers adjusted to cancel out predictable seasonal fluctuations. That's 2,000 below the June level and more than 4,000 jobs below July 2011. Mississippi is one of nine states where payrolls fell over the last year. The state remains nearly 77,000 jobs short of its pre-recession peak in payroll employment.
Among business sectors where payroll jobs fell in Mississippi were leisure and hospitality, construction, financial activities and government. Jobs rose in manufacturing, professional and business services, education and health services and trade, transportation and utilities.
Mississippi tied with New York for the eighth-highest unemployment rate among the states. Overall, jobless levels rose in 44 states. Nevada retained the highest rate at 12 percent and North Dakota kept the lowest at 3 percent.
The national unemployment rate rose to 8.3 percent in July from 8.2 percent in June. It remained below the 9.1 percent level of July 2011.
County-level unemployment numbers won't be released by the state until Wednesday.
The broadest measure of those who are unemployed which includes people who are looking for work only sporadically, have given up looking or are working part time because they can't find a full-time job averaged 15.4 percent in Mississippi over the 12 months ending June 30, the most recent figures available.
Nationwide, that broad measure averaged 15.3 percent during the same time.
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