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Unemployment rate falls, but still double digits

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Mississippi’s unemployment rate dipped to 10 percent in August from 10.8 percent in July, although an economist said yesterday that the decrease probably was due mostly to people dropping out of the active work force.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics said Mississippi was one of 13 states that recorded a decrease last month, on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Although non-farm payrolls grew by only 800 during the month, the BLS said there were 11,100 fewer people listed as unemployed. At the same time, the civilian labor forced dropped by 3,000.

Marianne Hill, senior economist with the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, said those numbers, put together, showed an increased number of discouraged workers who temporarily have given up their search for work.

“People tend to come in and look for work when the economy is growing,” Hill said.

The slow national economy continues to put a dent into the state’s manufacturing industries and along the Gulf Coast where tourism is a major driver, Hill said. Construction is lagging because of the national fall in housing — and aggravated in Mississippi where a large number of low- and middle-income families can no longer qualify for mortgages, Hill said.

Mississippi’s unemployment rate in Aug. 2009 was 9.8 percent.

The national unemployment rate for August was unchanged from July at 9.6 percent. That rate was 9.7 percent in Aug. 2009.

Without seasonal adjustments, BLS said Mississippi’s jobless rate fell to 8.8 percent in August, down from 11.5 percent in July.

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