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Unemployment numbers provide reason for optimism




Carmen K. Sisson



Unemployment figures continue to slowly drop, just in time for the holiday season, which should be a good bit brighter than last year for workers across the Golden Triangle.  


Lowndes, Oktibbeha, Clay and Noxubee counties each saw slight decreases from last month and considerable decreases from this time last year. 


October unemployment in Lowndes was down from 9.7 percent last month to 9.0 percent this month, while Oktibbeha, at 7.8 percent, continued to enjoy the lowest rates in the Golden Triangle, dropping from last month's 8.5 percent. In October 2011, unemployment in Lowndes County was 11.5 percent, and it was 10.1 percent in Oktibbeha County. 


Clay and Noxubee counties continue to struggle, with Clay still posting the highest unemployment rate in the state -- 16.4 percent, compared to the state average of 8.3 percent and the nationwide average of 7.5 percent. But it's marginally better than last month's 17.1 percent, and it's an improvement from a year ago, when Clay labored beneath an 18.9 percent unemployment rate. Noxubee has dropped from 17.5 percent in October 2011 to 14.3 percent in October 2012. Noxubee's rate was 15.4 percent last month. 


Clay remains a long way from its 13.5 percent rate of October 2007, but it is also distancing itself from its five-year high of 20.1 percent in October 2009.  


Lowndes sits in the middle of its five-year rates, with its best year being October 2007, at 7.5 percent, and its worst year being October 2010, at 11.9 percent. Oktibbeha also saw its best year in October 2007, posting a rate of 5.8 percent, while last year, at 10.1 percent, was its hardest.  


Mississippi's unemployment rate, at 8.3 for October 2012, is the lowest the state has seen over the past year, according to data released Tuesday by the Mississippi Department of Employment Services. The rate is just slightly lower than September, which posted 9.1 percent.  


Only 26 counties in Mississippi had unemployment rates lower than the state average, with Rankin and Madison counties continuing to come out on top at 5.2 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively.  


Nationwide, things are looking a little brighter, too. Last year, the nation was gripped by an 8.5 percent unemployment rate in October. The nation posted a 7.5 percent rate in October 2012, falling one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month.  


And where are the best chances to land a job? Manufacturing, government and professional and business services, which showed the largest employment gains in October. The leisure and hospitality sector showed the biggest loss.


Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.



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