July 24, 2014 10:06:53 AM
The latest series of unemployment data from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security brings good news and bad news.
The bad: There were an estimated 400 fewer jobs in Mississippi last month than there were in May, according to the seasonally-adjusted results from a survey of state employers.
The good: There were 13,300 more jobs created in Mississippi over the past 12 months.
There were 112,000 Mississippians were looking for work last month.
Seasonally-adjusted data removes the effects of events that follow a seasonal pattern, such as holidays, weather and the opening and closing of schools. Taking those factors into consideration, last month's statewide unemployment rate was 7.9 percent, 0.2 percent higher than it was in May but 0.8 percent lower than in June 2013.
Take that adjustment out, however, and non-farm employment decreased by 4,800 from May to June, and the unemployment rate was 8.7 percent. That's still an improvement over the unadjusted June 2013 rate of 9.5 percent.
A higher unemployment rate is not unusual this time of year, said MDES chief of labor market information Mary Willoughby. The end of school years for schools around the state typically has the largest effect on June numbers, she said.
"It always goes up in June," Willoughby said. "All the secondary employment that is at colleges and universities, the people that may run their book stores, they aren't going to have as many people there during the summer. If they contract out their cafeteria people, they're not going to have that many cafeteria people during the summer. When you start looking over the year and employment is increased over last year as much as it is, it's really a good thing."
At the local level, unemployment rates mostly remained where they were last June. The rate in Lowndes County dropped 0.1 percent from 10.2 in June 2013 to 10.1 last month, an estimated 2,710 people without work.
Oktibbeha County also had a 10.1 unemployment rate for the month of June, which means about 1,970 people were out of work. Twelve months before, it was 10.7.
Clay County had the highest unemployment rate of all Mississippi's 82 counties by percentage at 18.1, but it was still much lower than in the 19.8 rate recorded in June 2013. A total of 1,290 were unemployed there.
In Noxubee County, there were 640 people trying to get a job last month. The county's unemployment rate rose half a percent from 16.9 in June 2013 to 17.4 in June 2014.
Industry sectors reporting the largest employment losses last month were educational and health services; professional and business services; and government.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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