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VOL. 129 | NO. 77 | Monday, April 21, 2014

Mississippi Jobless Rate Rises in March as Payrolls Fall

JEFF AMY | Associated Press

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent in March as more people entered the labor force than could find jobs.

A separate survey shows state employer payrolls fell for the fourth straight month, suggesting that Mississippi's stronger economic growth in late 2013 may be softening.

Both sets of figures — adjusted to cancel out seasonal changes — were released Friday by the U.S. Labor Department.

Mississippi's unemployment rate was 7.4 percent in February, while it was 9 percent in March 2013.

It was the first monthly increase in the state's jobless rate since June 2012. The unemployment rate is still lower than the double-digit levels it soared to for more than two years during the recession, but Mississippi has the sixth-highest unemployment rate among the states.

Rhode Island had the nation's worst jobless rate, at 8.7 percent, while North Dakota retained the lowest jobless rate at 2.4 percent. Unemployment rates fell in 21 states, rose in 17 and were flat in 12.

The national unemployment rate was flat from February to March at 6.7 percent, but below the 7.5 percent level of March 2013.

The Labor Department found 96,000 Mississippians were unemployed in March, up more than 2,000 from February but down from 116,000 in March 2013. The number of people with jobs held steady, but 2,000 more people were looking for work, pushing up unemployment. It's the first monthly rise in Mississippi's labor force in almost three years, a period during which the number of workers fell by almost 6 percent.

The unemployment rate is calculated by a survey that asks how many people are looking for a job. A second survey each month asks employers how many people are on their payrolls, a measure many economists use as their top labor market indicator.

Mississippi's nonfarm payrolls fell by more than 1,000 to 1.11 million. Payrolls have been falling since November, although the drops have been small, totaling less than 1 percent so far. But the state is still falling further away from its pre-recession payroll peak. Payrolls now include 4.2 percent fewer workers than the all-time high recorded in February 2008.

Employment fell in Mississippi in sectors including trade, transportation and utilities; professional and business services; education and health services; leisure and hospitality and construction. It rose in manufacturing, financial activities and government.

The broadest measure of those who are unemployed averaged 14.6 percent in Mississippi during all of 2013, the most recent figures available. That number includes people who are looking for work only sporadically, have given up looking or are working part time because they can't find a full-time job.

Nationwide, that broad measure averaged 13.8 percent during the same time.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 66 180 11,618
MORTGAGES 81 223 15,202
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 47 2,958
BUILDING PERMITS 0 392 27,646
BANKRUPTCIES 90 218 11,180
BUSINESS LICENSES 26 63 4,101
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 99 422 16,906
MARRIAGE LICENSES 19 62 3,526

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