JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — Mississippi’s employers added 6,000 jobs to their payrolls in September and the state’s unemployment rate fell again, although it remains the second-highest in the nation.
The numbers, compiled by two separate surveys, continue to send mixed signals about the state of Mississippi’s economy. The payroll survey records subdued growth, while the household survey used to compute the unemployment rate suggests an economy stuck in neutral at best.
Both sets of figures — adjusted to cancel out seasonal changes — were released Tuesday by the U.S. Labor Department.
Mississippi’s jobless rate fell to 7.7 percent, down from 7.9 percent in August and 8.4 percent in September 2013. But the decrease in the unemployment rate was thanks to 4,400 people stopping their job searches. The survey found that the number of Mississippians with a job fell by nearly 1,000.
The report found 96,000 Mississippians were unemployed in September, down more than 3,000 from August and below September 2013’s total of 107,000.
The unemployment rate was worse only in Georgia, at 7.9 percent, while North Dakota retained the nation’s lowest jobless rate at 2.8 percent. Jobless rates fell in 31 states in September, rose in eight and were flat in 11.
The national unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent in September, down from 6.1 percent in August and 7.2 percent in September 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.
That payroll survey showed an increase of 6,000 in September, the largest gain in a year. The total number of nonfarm workers on payrolls rose to 1.13 million, 14,000 above the September 2013 total. Still, Mississippi has 3 percent fewer payroll employees now compared to its all-time high in February 2008.
Mississippi’s payroll gains in September were headlined by a nearly 3 percent gain in professional and business services employment, with jobs also increasing in education and health services, leisure and hospitality, construction and manufacturing. Jobs fell in trade, transportation and utilities; financial activities and government.
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.