Unemployment rate at 12 percent

By Russell Hood The Webster Progress-Times

The unemployment rate in Webster County dipped slightly over a 12- month period, but was back in the double digits.

Webster County reported a 12 percent unemployment rate for the month of December, according to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. The number is down from 12.6 percent in December 2011. The report is based on a workforce of 3,610 workers, with 430 people without jobs. The labor force was 3,520 in November.

However, the county had a higher unemployment rate in December than in November, when it was 9.7 percent.

For calendar year 2012, Webster County’s lowest jobless rate was seen in November. The highest was in January, when it reached 13.3 percent. Webster’s annual average unemployment rate in 2012 was 11.5 percent.

Webster County’s highest unemployment rate for December came in 2009, when it reached 15.6 percent, according to MDES statistics. The lowest rate for the month was in 1972, when it dropped to 4 percent.

DeSoto and Rankin counties both posted the lowest unemployment rates for the month at 5.9 percent. Clay County, with 18.4 percent, continued to have the highest unemployment numbers in the state.

December jobless rates in adjoining counties (besides Clay): • Oktibbeha, 9.3 percent. • Calhoun, 9.3 percent. • Choctaw, 9.9 percent. • Grenada, 10.2 percent. • Chickasaw, 11 percent.

• Montgomery, 12.2 percent Mississippi’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December was 8.6 percent. That figure was nearly two points lower than a year ago, when the December 2011 unemployment level was 10.5 percent.

The unemployment rate declined because 3,500 more Mississippians had jobs in December than a year earlier.

“Helping Mississippians get jobs is our agency’s mission, and that means we are working every day to improve the lives of the people of our state,” said Mark Henry, MDES executive director. “Innovative programs, like our new campaign to encourage employers to hire veterans called ‘Hire Mississippi Heroes,’ match qualified Mississippians with employers who are eager to hire them.”

The industry sectors that experienced the greatest gains over the past year were Manufacturing; Trade, Transportation and Utilities; and Professional and Business Services.

The national unemployment rate for December was 7.8 percent, which was the same as the November level. Like the country as a whole, the Mississippi December unemployment rate was essentially unchanged from the November figure of 8.5 percent.

County-level rates aren’t adjusted to cancel out predictable seasonal changes.

MDES offers free job posting, applicant screening and referrals and E- Verify services to businesses hiring in the state. One can learn more about Hire Mississippi Heroes and the services provided to employers and to Mississippians looking for jobs at mdes.ms.gov.