City, county unemployment continues to improve

Staff Writer

Starkville and Oktibbeha County's unemployment rates continued to fall in March, according to preliminary data from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.

Oktibbeha County's employment rate fell from 4 percent in February to 3.9 percent in March. The county’s unemployment tied with Tippah County for 15th lowest among Mississippi counties and was the lowest in the Golden Triangle region.

The county's labor force was reported to be 23,110 people, which includes everyone who is employed or seeking employment, with 22,200 reported to be employed and 910 reported to be unemployed.

Despite the improvements made, the county’s labor force did drop slightly from 23,290 in March 2017.

For the month of March over the last five years, Oktibbeha County has seen substantial gains as unemployment fell from a five-year high of 7.4 percent in March 2013.

The number of initial unemployment claims also fell for Oktibbeha County, from 61 in March 2017 to 47 in March 2018. Continued claims also fell from 421 to 359.

In terms of benefits paid by all programs for Oktibbeha County, the total fell from $61,367 in March 2017 to $59,190 in March 2018.

The city of Starkville also saw a drop in unemployment, falling from 3.5 percent in February to 3.3 percent in March. Starkville's labor force was reported at 12,590 for March, with 12,170 employed and 420 unemployed.

Despite the improvement in unemployment, Starkville’s labor force dipped slightly from 2017’s reported total of 12,700.

Like Oktibbeha County, Starkville’s unemployment rates for March have steadily improved over the last five years, up to 3.3 percent from the five-year high of 6.7 percent in March 2014.

The Golden Triangle's unemployment rate dropped from 5.1 percent in February to 4.6 percent in March. Out of the Golden Triangle's labor force of 74,540 people, 71,140 were reported to be employed and 3,400 reported to be unemployed.

Other Golden Triangle unemployment rates for March include: Chickasaw (4.2 percent), Choctaw (4.7 percent), Clay (5.4 percent), Lowndes (4.5 percent), Monroe (4.3 percent), Noxubee (5.9 percent), Webster (4.5 percent) and Winston (5.2 percent).

Mississippi's unemployment rate followed the trend, falling from 4.5 percent in February to 4.3 percent in March. The state's labor force was reported at 1,272,500, with 1,217,900 employed and 54,600 unemployed.

In the state, Rankin County reported the lowest unemployment rate with 3 percent in March, while Jefferson County reported the highest at 12.6 percent.

The country's unemployment rate dropped from 4.4 percent in February to 4.1 percent in March. Out of the country's work force of 161,548,000 people, 154,877,000 were reported to be employed and 6,671,000 were reported to be unemployed.