May 2, 2013 10:06:06 AM
Nathan Gregory - [email protected]
The decline seen in February from Lowndes County's 11.6 employment rate in January continued in March, Mississippi Department of Employment Security statistics released Wednesday showed.
MDES data indicates 9.6 percent, or approximately 2,600 residents, were unemployed last month. That figure is down from 10.8 in February.
Despite the improvement, rates are still up from last year's. Through the first three months of 2012, the unemployment rate was 10.5 in January, 9.6 in February and 9.0 in March.
Last month's rate was nearly a point above the state average of 8.7. The state average is more than a point above the 7.6 national average. MDES estimates about 113,900 unemployed statewide.
The city of Columbus had a 15.8 percent unemployment rate, down two full points from the 17.8 rate it registered two months ago.
Clay County also saw a drop in its unemployment rate last month -- March 2013's 18.2 percent was down from 20.6 two months before -- but it has the highest unemployment rate of any of the state's 82 counties. Holmes and Tunica counties had the second and third highest unemployment rates at 17.0 and 16.8, respectively.
Oktibbeha, Monroe and Noxubee counties also saw marked improvements in March from January numbers. Oktibbeha County had the lowest rate in the Golden Triangle area at 8.4 -- down from 11.1 in January. Monroe County's rate of 11.3 was down more than three points from January's 14.5 percent rate. Noxubee County's rate improved from 17.3 in January to 14.2 in March.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.