County jobless rate up slightly but still among lowest

Union County’s unemployment rate was up one percentage point from April to May, but still managed to rank second-lowest in Northeast Mississippi and third statewide.

According to figures from the Mississippi Employment Security Commission, Union County had 6.5 percent of its workforce without Jobs in May compared to 5.5 percent the previous month. The local rate was higher at 7.5 percent a year ago.

The only regional county to have a lower jobless rate was Lafayette, which bested Union only slightly at 6.3 percent. Historically, Lafayette County has often held the lowest unemployment rate in the state for decades – sometimes lower that would appear to be statistically normal since a certain part of the workforce is always changing jobs and unemployed, even if only temporarily.

Statewide, the May rate was 8.0 percent, higher than April but considerably better than the 9.7-percent rate a year ago.

In Northeast Mississippi, Benton, Chickasaw, Clay, Marshall and Monroe counties are still struggling with unemployment rates in double digits. Clay had clearly the highest unemployment rate at 16.2 percent for the 16-county region.

Although rates for the area were up, they still are second-lowest reported since 2008 and can be seen as even more positive since the labor force in May increased with the end of school sessions (state figures are adjusted for seasonal work changes while county numbers are not).