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Mississippi jobless rate dips in December, but payrolls dive

Two surveys tell different stories about Mississippi’s job market in December.

The unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent, its lowest level since January 2004. But employer payrolls took a sharp dive.

Mississippi’s jobless rate fell from 5.7 percent in November and was below the 6.8 percent of December 2015. More people entered the workforce, more found jobs, and the number of unemployed fell to 72,000, lowest since 2001.

Payrolls fell 7,000 to 1.13 million, however. That survey — many economists’ top labor market indicator — fell farther behind year-ago levels, reflecting economic weakness.

Mississippi’s jobless rate is tied for seventh-highest among states, with Alaska worst at 6.7 percent. The nationwide jobless rate rose to 4.7 percent from November’s 4.6 percent.

The U.S. Labor Department released figures Tuesday, adjusted to cancel out seasonal changes.

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