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Lowndes unemployment at lowest rate in six years




Nathan Gregory



State employment data shows there were nearly 5,000 more people were employed last month than there were in March of this year and 10,000 more than there were in April 2013. 


Statistics released Wednesday by the Mississippi Department of Unemployment Security also indicate that before statewide data was seasonally adjusted for last month, the unemployment rate in Mississippi was 6.8 percent, the lowest it has been since November 2008. This means roughly 1,170,100 people were employed while about 85,700 were on the job hunt. 


Golden Triangle county rates followed the state's trend, with Lowndes County experiencing its lowest unemployment rate since October 2008 at 7.7 percent, or about 2,030 people without work. 


Oktibbeha County's rate was right in line with the state's at 6.8 percent -- about 1,400 people. The last time the rate was that low was December 2008. 


Approximately 1,020 people were looking for jobs in Clay County last month. That's about 14.9 percent, which is a two-year low. That rate was 14.3 percent in April 2012. 


Noxubee County's rate was only three tenths of a percentage point lower last month than in April 2013 at 13.7 percent, but the last time it was lower was October 2012. About 480 people there were looking for a job. 


About 24,160 people had jobs in Lowndes County. In Oktibbeha County, 19,380 people were employed. Clay and Noxubee counties had roughly 5,930 and 3,020 people employed, respectively. 


The seasonally adjusted statewide rate was 7.5 percent. Seasonally adjusted data removes the effects of events that follow a regular pattern such as weather, school academic years and holidays. According to MDES, those adjustments better indicate the cyclical and other non-seasonal movements in a data series. Amounts are seasonally adjust only at the state and national levels. The national rate was 6.3 percent. 


MDES office of public information director Wayne Gasson noted that April typically sees some of the lowest unemployment rates of each year, so people can expect to see percentages increase during the summer months due to the increasing number of students off for the summer looking for part-time work or who have graduated and are on the job market. 


Still, he said, the statewide dip observed this year compared to recent years shows promise that unemployment in general has declined. 


"It's the lowest month we've had since November 2008," Gasson said, "so that's pretty good." 


MDES' monthly report stated that industry sectors registering the largest monthly employment gains were construction, professional/business services and leisure and hospitality. 


MDES employment statistics are compiled using a monthly survey of households and designed so those over 16 years old classified into one of three groups: employed, unemployed or not in the labor force. Households in surveys are rotated out to ensure that 75 percent of them are consistent from one month to the next and 50 percent of them are consistent from the same month of the previous year.


Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.



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