Thursday, February 2, 2006

Unemployment rate up in most counties

December’s unemployment rate of 9.3 percent showed almost no change from last month’s revised rate of 9.4 percent, up from November’s preliminary 8.8 percent estimate, the Mississippi Department of Employment (MDES) announced Thursday.

The increased unemployment noted in the revised November data caused almost all counties to post higher rates than previously published. December’s rate of 9.3 percent compared to the relatively low unemployment rate of 6.2 percent a year ago, confirms that Hurricane Katrina is still wreaking havoc with Mississippi’s labor force.

The number of unemployed Mississippians fell by 1,000, and the number of employed persons rose by 2,300.

The nation’s unadjusted rate of 4.6 percent was down from November’s rate of 4.8 percent while the national adjusted rate of 4.9 was down by .1 percent from 5.0 percent.

Areas dependent on farm-related jobs tended to have higher rates of unemployment, while counties with a large retail trade presence tended to fare better than their neighboring counties. Sectors witnessing sharp drops in employment included leisure and hospitality, and government.

Fifty-one counties reported unemployment rates equal to or less than Mississippi’s 9.3 percentage rate. Twenty-six counties posted double-digit unemployment rates, with the highest rates at 22.1 percent and 21.0 percent in Harrison and Hancock counties. Jackson County had the third highest rate posting at 15.2 percent.

Marshall County’s December unemployment rate was 11.3, up from 7.4 in November. Benton County’s was 13.1, up from 9.5.

“If historic trends hold true, January will likely show higher rates across much of the state as winter weather slows work in agriculture and construction jobs,” said Wayne Gasson, chief of Labor Market Information.

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