Mississippi unemployment rate inches up, tied for fourth highest in nation

The Associated Press

14060431-mmmainMississippi’s unemployment rate in May was tied with Kentucky’s for the nation’s fourth-highest. But that 7.7 percent rate was still well below Mississippi’s 9 percent rate a year earlier.

The national unemployment rate remained stable from April to May at 6.3 percent, while Mississippi’s rose from 7.5 percent.

Preliminary data in a separate survey indicated Mississippi had gained 15,300 jobs from a year earlier, to more than 1.12 million. About 4,100 of that increase came in May.

The U.S. Labor Department makes two surveys: one of employers, asking how many people are on their payrolls, the other of workers and would-be workers. Both sets of figures, adjusted to cancel out normal seasonal changes, were released Friday.

The states with the nation’s highest and lowest unemployment rates remained the same: Rhode Island at 8.2 percent and North Dakota at 2.6 percent.

Unemployment rates went down from April in 20 states, up in 16, and were flat in 14 states and the District of Columbia, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Labor Department found 98,200 Mississippians without jobs in May, up 2,700 from April. The labor force of about 1.27 million grew by 300 people while the number of people holding jobs fell 2,400, to just under 1.17 million.

About 2,800 of Mississippi’s new jobs in May were in the generally well-paid professional and business services sector. Another 1,500 were in education and health services and 1,100 in manufacturing. A few other sectors had gains of 100 to 300.

However, the state lost about 1,900 jobs in other areas. They included 800 construction jobs, 600 in leisure and hospitality, and smaller numbers in trade, transportation and utilities; information; and other services — a wide-ranging area that includes repairing machinery, writing grants, pet care and preaching.