54 Miss. counties reporting double-digit unemployment, Jefferson at 20 percent

In June, 54 of the state’s 82 counties had double-digit jobless rates.

The state’s rate hovered close to double digits. It was 9.8 percent in June, about two points higher than the same month last year and higher than the June national rate of 9.7 percent.

Lillie Berry of Jackson said she’s had to cut back on expenses since losing her job as a medical records technician. Berry said she’s using $19 worth of food stamps to help pay for groceries every month.

“It’s real difficult,” she said. “I got the light bill and gas bill to pay. The light bill is $340; the gas bill is $98. I’m just gonna survive by the grace of the Lord.”

Mississippi paid $35.7 million in unemployment benefits last month compared with $13 million in June 2008, according to data released Wednesday by the state Department of Employment Security.

There were 129,000 Mississippians unemployed last month. In June 2008, 102,800 people were without jobs when the state’s unemployment rate was 7.7 percent.