Two recent pieces of economic news about Union County are encouraging.
First, Union County’s employment trend from the state Center for Policy Research and Planning is one of the best in the state.
For the first six months of 2009, job growth in the county went up 3.9 percent over the same six months last year. Only eight counties in the state did better, including our neighbor to the east, Lee, which had growth of 4.1 percent.
Union County’s numbers are particularly encouraging because more than half the counties in the state actually lost jobs during the same period.
The numbers for our other neighboring counties were a mixed bag. Benton County was up 2.5 percent, Prentiss 1 percent and Marshall .9 percent. Pontotoc County lost 6.4 percent, Tippah lost 3.6 percent and Lafayette was down .2 percent.
Some of the growth in our county can be attributed to the opening of Lowe’s home improvement store and Walgreens pharmacy.
Second, the news on the unemployment front, while not very good, is better than in many parts of the state. Union County’s rate was 10.4 percent in July, which puts it in the lowest third of the state’s counties. Lee County’s rate was 11.4 percent and Pontotoc’s 10.6 percent.
Keeping our employment trend headed the right direction will not be easy because we have no businesses of a magnitude of a Lowe’s on the horizon. But for now, we’ll enjoy the good news and work hard to keep current jobs and get new ones.