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Doing the numbers

MBJ Editorial

A blip has popped up on economic radar screens in Mississippi.

Jobless figures from the Mississippi Employment Security Commission (MESC) show that the state’s unemployment rate jumped to 7% this past January — primarily due to after-Christmas retail job losses and weather-affected industry slowdowns. Approximately 7,100 Mississippians employed in the retail trade segment became unemployed in January as workers hired for the Christmas buying season were released. In addition, poor weather conditions caused construction to be down by 1,200 jobs during the month.

“We always expect the state’s rate to rise from December to January,” said Curt Thompson, executive director of MESC. “For example, last year the rate jumped from 6% in December 2001 to 7.2% in January 2002.”

The national unemployment rate for January was 6.5%. The state revised rate for December 2002 was also 6.5%.

During January, the number of employed rose by 1,900 with a total of approximately 1.22 million Mississippians working. However, the number of unemployed also increased during the month by 7,800 workers. There were 92,500 unemployed workers in Mississippi during January.

What do the next few months hold for the economy? What will the jobless rates for February and March look like?

The MESC’s Thompson said it was difficult to predict what the February employment numbers would show in light of rapidly changing national and world conditions.

However, we remain confident that the nation’s steady economic recovery will continue, and business will be good in the months to come.

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