Clarke County unemployment falls, but remains double-digit
from staff and wire reports
Aug. 24, 2002
Clarke County's jobless rate led Mississippi for the third straight month, posting a double-digit figure that was down slightly in July after almost reaching 20 percent.
County officials, still reeling from the closing of the Burlington Industries plant in Stonewall, reported an 18.2 percent unemployment rate for July down from 19.9 percent in June.
Statistics released Friday by the Mississippi Employment Security Commission told a similar story across the state, as the average jobless rate fell from 7.4 percent to 6.5 percent.
Lauderdale County's unemployment rate fell from 7 percent in June to 5.9 percent in July.
Unemployment rates in other East Central Mississippi last month included 7.9 percent in Jasper County, 6.7 percent in Newton County, 6.6 percent in Neshoba County and 9.7 percent in Kemper County.
Last month, Mississippi saw gains in several sectors of the state's economy, including agriculture, health services, lumber and wood, chemicals and government.
There were 1.23 million Mississippians working in July; 85,100 state residents were unemployed.
Most counties saw their unemployment rates drop during July,'' said MESC executive director Curt Thompson.
Despite signs of modest improvement in the national economy, Mississippi continues to take a hit in the manufacturing sector.
On Friday, Michigan-based La-Z-Boy announced a restructuring of its operations in northeast Mississippi that will cost 200 people their jobs.
Earlier this week, Irvin Automotive said its Greenwood plant will shut down in seven months, leaving 500 workers without jobs. Irvin, a Michigan company that has produced sun visors and armrests in Greenwood since 1977, said it is moving most of the operation to Mexico. Rankin County had Mississippi's lowest rate at 3 percent, followed by Lafayette County at 3.6 percent. DeSoto, Tunica and Lamar counties all were at 3.7 percent.
Thompson said the employment situation should continue to improve this month as student jobseekers return to school and ease the pressure on the labor market.