Unemployment Up, Hope Remains

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According to newly released figures from the Mississippi Employment Security Commission, the state's jobless rate saw a 1.2 percent increase in January, but was 0.8 percentage point lower than that of a year ago.

"The rates that we are experiencing now are seasonal fluctuation," said Algene McQuarters, manager of MESC's WIN job Center in Meridian. "That is, there would be a lot less need for people in construction due to the weather and the people hired for the Christmas season."

In addition to these factors, the closing of such plants as U.S. Motors plant in Philadelphia, along with others, will have a big effect on the unemployment rates.

"There are some people that live in Lauderdale that work in Neshoba. They are gradually laying off some of their people, and there are other plants that are downsizing as well, like Avery and Peavey Electronics, addressing global competition," said McQuarters.

He added that about 800 people come in seeking job placement on a weekly basis.

"I was unfortunate not to find one and I have been going to school and looking for a job," said Rita Duncan, who was laid off in April 2002 from her job at Burlington in Stonewall.

While 31 counties managed rates less than 6.3 percent, including Newton,
Lauderdale, Neshoba, and Newton, 26 counties in Mississippi logged double-digit rates of unemployment.

Officials say they are hopeful that the labor force conditions will soon improve.

Visit the Mississippi Unemployment Rate Archive for more information on previous years.