Job growth is still anemic in Mississippi, but people are leaving the labor force in droves, rapidly pushing down the state's unemployment rate.
The unemployment rate fell to 9 percent in March from 9.6 in February, according to seasonally adjusted numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That's the lowest level since April 2009, and
well below the 10.5 percent unemployment rate of March 2011.
Mississippi's 0.6 percentage point drop in the unemployment rate tied with Oklahoma for the biggest decrease. Despite the decrease, Mississippi remained tied for the fifth-highest jobless rate.
A second survey found that payroll jobs in Mississippi, at 1.09 million, fell by 1,000 from February to March. Total jobs were 3,500 lower than a year ago.
Alabama's unemployment rate has fallen for the eighth straight month to 7.3 percent for March.
That's down from a revised rate of 7.5 percent in February and a high of 10 percent in July.
The state Department of Industrial Relations reports that the last time Alabama's unemployment rate
was this low was December 2008.
Alabama's rate was also below the national figure of 8.2 percent.
State Industrial Relations Director Tom Surtees said initial claims for unemployment have fallen to pre-recession levels.