Applicants wait in the lobby of the Vicksburg WIN Job Center to fill out job applications Wednesday at a career fair.
Applicants wait in the lobby of the Vicksburg WIN Job Center to fill out job applications Wednesday at a career fair.

County unemployment lowest in five years

Published 10:43am Thursday, May 22, 2014

The job market in Warren County was more competitive in April than at any point since the depths of the Great Recession, according to unemployment figures released Wednesday by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.

Unemployment countywide was 7.7 percent, down from 9.1 percent in March and the lowest mark recorded for the area since December 2008 when it was 6.4 percent.

A lower overall labor force compared to April appeared to fuel the jobless rate. MDES recorded 19,580 people in Warren County’s labor force for the month, down by 280 people from March. The same went for the number of jobless persons counted — 1,510, compared to 1,800 in March. The number of employed people, 18,070, was 10 more than a month ago.

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.

Release of the figures coincided with a job fair Wednesday at the Vicksburg WIN Job Center on Monroe Street. The event gathered applicants for openings at DiamondJacks Casino, Lady Luck Casino, Kangaroo gas stations, Securitas Security, the City of Vicksburg and Tougaloo College.

Vicksburg residents Burnetta Moore, from left, Jonah Ragan and Jonathan Drain wait outside the Vicksburg WIN Job Center during a career fair. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)
Vicksburg residents Burnetta Moore, from left, Jonah Ragan and Jonathan Drain wait outside the Vicksburg WIN Job Center during a career fair. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

The figures came a week after new industries were announced at the Port of Vicksburg and at Ceres Research and Industrial Interplex. CAM2 International LLC, which blends motor oils for heavy industry, plans to begin shipping products in earnest by next month with a staff of about 35. ISA TanTec, a German-invested leather tanner, is purchasing the former Calsonic building at Ceres and aims to begin its operations next year. Combined, the two businesses plan to hire 366 people within five years.

Wayne Mansfield, executive director of the Warren County Port Commission, said upon learning of April’s workforce trend that training partnerships between the school district, Hinds Community College and industries such as Cameron and the federal government could be fine-tuned in the future.

“I’d like that opportunity expanded to include a business aspect,” Mansfield said. “There are industries that hire economists, chemists … they hire beyond your traditional blue-collar jobs.”

Statewide, unemployment stood at 6.8 percent, down 1.2 points for the month. The biggest areas of job gains were leisure/hospitality, construction and professional/business services. Seasonally adjusted, the state’s rate was 7.5 percent. The national rate was 5.9 percent in April, up from 6.8 percent in March.

Rankin County showed the lowest rate in the state, at 4.2 percent. Claiborne, Sharkey and Issaquena counties showed improved rates for the month — Claiborne at 12.2 percent, down 1.4 points, Issaquena at 16.3 percent, down from 17.6 percent and Sharkey at 7.8 percent, down form 10.5 percent in March.

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