July jobless rate drops to 6.5%
Wednesday, September 25, 2013 1:00 AM
Neshoba County's unemployment rate dropped to 6.5 percent in July, after 100 people exited the labor force.
The county's jobless rate in June was at 7.4 percent.
During July, the county's labor force dropped from 13,360 to 13,260.
There were 12,400 people employed and 860 unemployed in July.
Neshoba's July jobless rate was the fourth lowest in the state's 82 counties, tying with DeSoto County.
Lower rates were reported in Rankin, 4.6 percent; Lamar, 5.9 percent; and Jones, 6 percent.
Statistics from the state Department of Employment Security, which date back to January 1970, show the county's highest unemployment rate for July came in 1986 when it reached 16.3 percent.
The lowest rate for that period was in 1998 when it was 3.5 percent.
Mississippi's unemployment rate was 8.6 percent in July and 8.5 percent for August.
The individual county unemployment rates for August have not been released.
The unemployment rate is calculated by a survey that asks how many people are looking for a job.
A second survey each month asks employers how many people are on their payrolls, a measure many economists use as their top labor market indicator.
Additionally, labor statistics do not count someone who is out of work but not looking for a job as unemployed.
Mississippi's unemployment rate ticked down to 8.5 percent in August as workers kept leaking out of the labor force.
A separate survey showed state employer payrolls fell slightly.
Both sets of figures - adjusted to cancel out normal seasonal changes - were released Friday by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It's the lowest state jobless rate since February 2009. Mississippi's unemployment rate had initially been estimated at 8.5 percent in July, but that was revised up to 8.6 percent. The state jobless rate was 9.3 percent in August 2012.
The state's labor force declined by more than 4,000 people, continuing a trend of fewer people looking for jobs. Mississippi's labor force has fallen every month in 2013.
Mississippi had 110,000 unemployed people in August, down 700 from July, and also down from 124,000 in August 2012. There was a 3,600-person drop in the number of people who said they had a job, driven by the decrease in the labor force.
Mississippi tied with Tennessee and New Jersey for the eighth-worst jobless rate among the states.
Nevada retained the nation's worst jobless rate at 9.5 percent, while North Dakota was again lowest at 3 percent.
The national unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent in August from 7.4 in July. It was also below the 8.1 percent level of August 2012.
Mississippi's nonfarm payrolls fell by 1,000 people from July, but remained 20,000 above year-ago levels.
The state saw relatively strong payroll growth in the first half of 2013, but payrolls have now dropped two months in a row.
State economist Darren Webb told lawmakers Thursday that Mississippi's economy, like the national economy, seems to be slowing.
"The state's economy has grown relatively strongly over the past year, but we have probably slowed from that pace," Webb said. "We do expect growth to continue, just not at the pace we have been seeing."
- The Associated Press contributed to this article.