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State's unemployment rate held steady in January

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Mississippi’s unemployment rate for January remained unchanged from December as the state started 2011 with a plunge in non-farm jobs, the Department of Employment Security said today.

The agency said there were 15,300 fewer jobs in January than for December, although the count was up 13,000 from Jan. 2010.

State officials said federally mandated process of updating and revising the previous year’s data had not been completed. As a result, the jobs agency said comparisons were “not strictly compatible.”

In a monthly report delayed by the revision process, the department said Mississippi’s jobless rate, on a seasonally adjusted basis, was 10.1 percent for both December and January. The national rate, which came in at 9 percent in January, fell to 8.9 percent in February. The state reports its February rate later this month.

The Department of Employment Security said the largest job decrease in January, on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, was recorded in the wide sector of trade, transportation and utilities with 5,500. Of those, 4,100 came in retail trade, which typically has cut its temporary holiday work force in January.

Government employment fell by 3,300 from December, with 1,900 of those jobs tied to local education. Leisure-hospitality, which includes the tourism and casino businesses, fell by 3,200 jobs from December.

From Jan. 2010, Mississippi wound up with a net job loss in the goods-producing sector of 100. Service-providing jobs rose by 13,100, though all levels of government shed 3,700 jobs in the face of tightened government spending, especially by local school districts, the agency said.

Construction was up 1,900 jobs in Jan. 2011 from Jan. 2010, and mining and logging, which includes petroleum, increased by 600 jobs. But manufacturing was down 2,600 jobs over the year.

Among the state’s metropolitan areas:

• Gulfport-Biloxi dropped 1,100 jobs in the December-to-January count, but had 1,600 more jobs than a year ago.

• Hattiesburg recorded a fall of 1,000 jobs in Jan. 2011, for a net 12-month gain of 600.

• Jackson saw a drop of 4,000 jobs in January from December, though the area recorded a 1,700-job gain from January 2010.

• Pascagoula lost 500 jobs from December to January. Over 12 months, the area was up by 1,700 jobs.


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