Neshoba County's unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent in February, the lowest reported for the month since November 2008, when it was 4.9 percent.

The county's jobless rate in January was at 8.4 percent.

Mississippi's unemployment rate was 9.9 percent in February while the national rate was at 8.1 percent.

Statewide, more people held jobs in February 2013 than in January 2013, the Mississippi Department of Employment Security announced. According to preliminary numbers, employers statewide reported 5,500 more jobs in February 2013, which is an increase of 17,000 from February 2012.

"Although it may seem strange that the number of jobs and the unemployment rate can both move upward, the fact is that those two figures are calculated using two separate surveys by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics," said Mark Henry, MDES Executive Director.

"Unemployment is calculated by a random survey of households and the number of jobs is based on a survey of employers."

Additionally, BLS does not count someone who is out of work but not looking for a job as unemployed.

The latest Mississippi figures indicate more people are beginning to search for jobs; therefore, they are now counted as unemployed.

During February, Neshoba County saw its labor force drop from 13,070 to 12,980.

A drop in labor force can be attributed to such things as people exhausting their unemployment benefits and no longer looking for a job, those unemployed who have reached the age where they qualify for Social Security benefits and students leaving jobs to return to school or college, officials have said.

Neshoba County's February jobless rate was the seventh lowest of the state's 82 counties, with only Rankin, DeSoto, Madison, Lamar, Jones, and Lafayette posting lower rates.

The county had 11,970 people employed in February and 1,010 unemployed, the report said.

Statistics from the state Department of Employment Security, which date back to January 1970, show the county's highest unemployment rate for February came in 1989 when it reached 15.6 percent. The lowest rate for that period was in 1999 when it was 3.6 percent.

February jobless rates in counties that adjoin Neshoba:

• Winston, 12.8 percent.

• Kemper, 11.5 percent.

• Lauderdale, 10.1 percent.

• Newton, 8.9 percent.

• Scott, 7.8 percent.

• Leake, 11.4 percent.

• Attala, 12.2 percent.

MDES offers free job search assistance to people searching for jobs or looking for better jobs. Individuals can obtain assistance at their local WIN Job Center or by visiting the agency website at mdes.ms.gov.