Unemployment rate falls slightly

By Russell Hood The Webster Progress-Times

Webster County’s unemployment rate continues to hover around 13 percent, according to figures from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. The county’s unemployment rate did fall 0.5 percent in February to 12.8 percent, from January’s revised rate of 13.3 percent and 13.9 percent in February 2011. The county’s labor force, which includes the employed and those actively seeking work, was at 3,440 in February, compared to 3,420 in January. The number of people listed as unemployed was 440 in February, compared to 450 in January. The number of people employed was 3,000, while the previous month’s figure was 2,970. The county saw 39 initial claims for unemployment benefits in February, compared to 52 the previous month. There were 301 continued claims for benefits in February and 361 a month earlier. Statistics from the MDES, which date back to January 1970, show the county’s highest unemployment rate for February came in 2010, when it reached 16.4 percent. The lowest rate for the month was in 1973, when it dropped to 4.1 percent. In comparison to the seven surrounding counties, the Webster unemployment rate for February was less than Clay (16.3 percent) but more than Oktibbeha (9.6), Calhoun (9.7), Grenada (10.2), Chickasaw (10.6), Choctaw (11) and Montgomery (12.2). Mississippi’s unadjusted unemployment rate for February was at 9.5 percent while the nationwide unemployment rate was 8.7 percent. The unemployment rate fell from January to February in 79 counties. Only 23 counties in Mississippi posted unemployment rates less than or equal to the state’s and six counties posted rates greater than 15 percent. Rankin County retained the state’s lowest jobless rate at 6.1 percent and Tunica recorded the highest at 17.4 percent. County-level numbers aren’t adjusted to smooth out normal seasonal fluctuations.