Newest figures from the Mississippi Employment Security Commission show that Mississippi’s unemployment rate was 9.8 percent in June. That is an increase of about 2 percent compared to last year. The state unemployment rate was 9.6 in May and 7.7 percent last June.

That means 129,000 people were unemployed.

Sobering, but it most likely will get worse.

Employment lags behind in any recovery and Mississippi usually lags behind the rest of the nation in the trends. State economic experts, while seeing improvement in the long run, say Mississippi still probably will go over 10 percent before the end of the year. Most counties are already there.

Fifty-four counties topped the 10 percent mark, while seven went over 15 percent. The most dire situation was in Jefferson County, which has a 20 percent unemployment rate. Other high unemployment counties include: Claiborne (18.2 percent); Holmes (19.4 percent); Noxubee (17.6); and Winston and Clay (16.9 percent).

Rankin County remained the best county for employment with a 6.2 percent rate.

These trends track historical issues in Mississippi with the poorer counties being hit the hardest. But rates above 15 percent show the severe impact of the economic slowdown in the state and the need to address ongoing issues of education and job training in those areas.

It also shows why the state’s unemployment compensation is such an important tool in these difficult times.

Clarion-Ledger
7/23/9