Unemployment rates climb

By By William F. West / community editor
Nov. 27, 2002
QUITMAN Clarke County, whose economy has been hit hard by plant closings, once again leads the state's 82 counties in jobless rates.
That's according to figures released by the Mississippi Employment Security Commission on Tuesday.
October figures show Clarke County with a 16.8 percent unemployment rate, up slightly from 16.5 percent in September.
Quitman Mayor Tommy Blackburn said he and his fellow officials in Clarke County are doing all they can to address the problem.
Blackburn said he had just finished showing a building to a prospect, who he declined to name for confidentiality reasons.
Clarke County's economy has been in decline for months, a devastating blow coming earlier this year, when Burlington Industries closed its Stonewall plant and threw more than 800 people out of work.
Yet Clarke County is not the only one with an unemployment problem in East Mississippi.
Lauderdale rate leaps
October figures also showed Lauderdale County's jobless rate climbed to 7.2 percent from 5.5 percent in September.
Wade Jones, president of the East Mississippi Business Development Corp., said a depressed economy could a reason for such an increase.
However, Jones said his office will try to find out the reason for the jump in Lauderdale's unemployment rate.
In the city of Meridian, the October unemployment rate was 5.9 percent, up from 5.2 percent in September.
Area rates up, too
In other East Mississippi counties, Newton's jobless rate was 5.9 percent, up from 5.4 percent in September, Kemper's was at 9.9 percent, up from 8 percent, and Neshoba's was at 4.5 percent, up from 4.2 percent.
Statewide, the unemployment rate increased from 5.7 percent to 6.6 percent despite the addition of 7,400 new workers to the economy.
The state's rate also exceeds the nation's 5.3 percent jobless rate for October.
Curt Thompson, commissioner of the employment security commission, said in past years jobless rates for November and December have increased in agricultural areas as the harvest season ends and decreased in urban areas as the holiday buying season begins.

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