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Lowndes unemployment hovers at 9.5 percent




Nathan Gregory



Lowndes County's unemployment rate in August was 9.3 percent -- two tenths of a point up from August 2012, but the second lowest monthly showing in 2013 overall. 


That percentage represents an estimated 2,530 people actively looking for a job, according to statistics from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. It's a tenth of a percent lower than July's rate of 9.6. 


April was the only month the rate was lower. It was 9 percent then. 


It's nearly a full percentage point over the statewide average of 8.4 percent and two percent over the national average of 7.3. 


MDES chief of labor market information Mary Willoughby said the category of employment seeing the biggest increase statewide was government with about 4,300 new positions filled in the past month.  


"That's typical because schools are back in," she said. "(The increase includes) your cafeteria workers and bus drivers that are under the schools that don't contract out." 


Other occupational groups trending up included professional business services, educational health services, health care and social assistance and manufacturing. 


With an uncharacteristically high decrease in unemployment rates from June to July, Willoughby said she had been cautiously optimistic that there wouldn't be an increase from July to August. That the rates stayed mostly the same for that period is a good sign, she said. 


"Most of the time we have a one point or larger decrease from July to August. This time it was only 0.2, but we had such a large decrease last month," she said. "I'm not sure why it decreased so much from June to July, but it didn't increase this month." 


Other counties in the area also showed little change from July's numbers. Oktibbeha County's rate sank nearly 1 percent from 9.7 percent in July to 8.8, indicating about 1,760 people looking for jobs. Noxubee County's rate remained at 14.5 percent from July to August, an estimated 550 seeking work. 


Clay County remained the county with the highest rate in the state at 18.3 percent -- about 1,350 people -- but that number is down 0.7 percent from July. In August 2012, the county's unemployment rate was 16.9 percent.


Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.



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