March 14, 2013 10:01:42 AM
New unemployment data shows the Golden Triangle continuing to lag behind the state's unadjusted unemployment rate of 10.7 percent, but officials with the Mississippi Department of Employment Services say its hard to put a lot of faith in January numbers.
Mary Willoughby, chief of Labor Market Information for MDES, says January is a month that can be counted on almost religiously to have an unemployment increase from the previous month.
She says this is mostly due to seasonal employment.
"Businesses start hiring people at the end of October and beginning of November so they can handle any extra business during the holiday season, but let them go at the first of the year," Willoughby said.
College students can also throw off numbers, according to Willoughby.
"A lot of colleges haven't gone back to school by the 12th of January," she says. "So those students aren't in school and if they don't already have a job or are still looking for a job but haven't found one, they would be considered unemployed."
Mississippi's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 9.3 percent is a one-tenth of a percentage jump in its jobless rate in January.
County jobless rates are not seasonally adjusted.
Given that, a better picture of the Golden Triangle's unemployment condition can be drawn by comparing January figures from 2012 and 2013. The unemployment rates for each Golden Triangle county has increased by that comparison. Lowndes County's unemployment is up by 0.8 percent while Oktibbeha County's rate is up by 0.5 percent.
Clay County continues to be the source of most concern. Its 20.6 percent unemployment rate for January 2013 is the second highest in the state. That's nearly three points higher than last year's January numbers, and also two points higher than the county's December 2012 jobless rate of 18.4 percent.
Lowndes and Oktibbeha are sitting much closer to each other and the state average.
Lowndes County's January 2013 unemployment rate was 11.6 percent while Oktibbeha County has the lowest unemployment rate in the Golden Triangle for January 2013 with 11.1 percent. Even so, unemployment increased by almost two points from the previous month.,
In Noxubee County, the January 2013 unemployment rate of 17.3 was only 0.1 percent higher than in January 2012. In December, the rate was 15.3 percent.