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Mississippi Gained 10,000 Jobs in 2013

By Evelina Burnett | Published 13 Mar 2014 08:41am | comments

Mississippi’s latest jobs report says the state gained 10,000 jobs last year.

MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports the January numbers seem to continue an upward trend in job growth in the state.

Mississippi’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in January was 7.5 percent.

Mary Willoughby with the state Department of Employment Security says it’s too soon to compare the January rate to last year because the historical figures are being revised. But, she says, broadly, unemployment does seem to be dropping in Mississippi.

"It looks like it's improving, from everything I've seen," she says. "Even when we were doing it last year, most every month last year was lower than the same month the prior year, if you're looking at seasonally adjusted data."

State economist Darrin Webb says this fits with the trend of job growth in the state that he began to see starting at about the end of 2012. Still, he cautions against focusing too much on that unemployment number – in fact, he says he wouldn’t be surprised to see the rate tick up slightly, even as employment grows.

"And that's because there are a lot of people who have gotten discouraged from looking for jobs, and so they have dropped out of the workforce," he says. "So they're out of the unemployment calculation. But once jobs start to begin to materialize, some of those people will come back into the labor force and actually temporarily raise the unemployment rate."

Mark Van Boening, an economics professor at University of Mississippi, says the good news is that every county in the state saw unemployment fall in January compared to a year ago.

But, he says, about two-thirds of the state’s counties still had unemployment rates above the state average.

"What that indicates is that some of the more rural areas are still lagging relatively far behind," he says. "Some of the counties still have double-digit unemployment rates. Hopefully we can get something turned around on those at some point." 

Clay, Tunica and Holmes counties had the highest unemployment rates in the state at around 17 percent in non-seasonally adjusted numbers. Rankin County had the lowest at 4.5 percent. 

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