Mississippi jobless rate rises in July, remains highest in the nation

14060431-smallJACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — Mississippi’s unemployment rate continued to go in the wrong direction in July, remaining the highest in the nation.

The jobless rate rose to 8 percent in July, the third straight monthly increase, as the number of people reporting they had a job fell faster than the labor force.

Mississippi’s unemployment rate was 7.9 percent in June, but was below the 8.7 percent rate of July 2013.

A separate survey showed employer payrolls rose slightly.

Both sets of figures — adjusted to cancel out seasonal changes — were released Monday by the U.S. Labor Department.

The report said 101,200 Mississippians were unemployed in July, up by fewer than 1,000 from June but down from 111,200 without jobs in July 2013. The number of Mississippians looking for a job fell in July, but the number of people saying they had work fell faster, driving up the number of jobless people and the unemployment rate.

Jobless rates rose in 30 states, fell in eight and were unchanged in 12. North Dakota retained the nation’s lowest jobless rate at 2.8 percent.

The national unemployment rate rose to 6.2 percent in July from 6.1 percent in June. That’s lower than the 7.3 percent rate in July 2013.

The unemployment rate is calculated by a survey that asks how many people are looking for a job. A second survey each month asks employers how many people are on their payrolls, a measure many economists use as their top labor market indicator. Mississippi’s nonfarm payrolls rose by 1,300 in July to 1.12 million. Payrolls were about 12,000 higher than in July 2013.

“You cannot ignore the fact that employers are reporting job gains,” Nicole Webb, spokeswoman for Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, wrote in an email.

But Mississippi still has 3.5 percent fewer workers than the all-time high recorded in February 2008.

Payrolls rose in Mississippi in sectors including trade, transportation and utilities; professional and business services; education and health services and manufacturing. Payrolls fell in leisure and hospitality, construction and government, while they were flat in financial activities.

The broadest measure of those who are unemployed averaged 13.6 percent in Mississippi from July 2013 through June 2014, the most recent figures released. That includes people looking for work only sporadically, who have given up looking or who work part time because they can’t find a full-time job.

Nationwide, that broad measure averaged 12.9 percent during the same period.