One glance at the latest unemployment numbers tells us one thing: School is out for summer.
The Mississippi Department of Employment Security released its labor statistics Wednesday for the month of May, which showed a significant spike in unemployment compared to a month ago.
Unemployment increased by 1.4 percent in Lowndes County, 1.5 percent in Oktibbeha County, 1.8 percent in Clay County and 2.2 percent in Noxubee County. All totaled, there were 1,080 more unemployed people in the four counties than a month ago.
Not to worry, says Mary Willoughby of the MDES.
“We see this every year,” she said. “The main thing the increase reflects is the end of the school year, mainly for colleges and universities. When those students are out of school and are looking for work, but haven’t found jobs they are counted in the unemployment figures.”
Willoughby said the numbers should also tick up when June’s numbers are released.
“At that point, you will see the impact of high school students who are out of school and over the age of 16. Because of that, the unemployment numbers for May and June are usually among the highest of the year.”
A better indicator of the job market, she said, is comparing May’s numbers to those of May 2014.
By that comparison, the area follows the state and national pattern that shows a continued drop in unemployment as the nation continues to its steady recovery from the recession that began in late 2008.
Each of the four counties show a robust drop in unemployment – there are 970 fewer people listed as unemployed in May than in May of 2014.
Nationally, the unemployment rate fell by 0.1 percent over the past month and is 1.0 percent lower than in May of 2014. Mississippi’s unemployment rate increased by 1.4 percent compared to last month, but has decreased by 0.9 percent when compared to May 2014.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.