Mississippi economy: More jobs, less gambling

Published 11:30 am Thursday, December 22, 2011

November was a better month for jobs in Warren County and across the state, but it was much worse for the state’s gaming industry.

Warren County’s unemployment rate was 10.8 percent for the month, down from a revised 11.5 percent in October, according to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. Mississippi’s rate was 9.7 percent, down seven-tenths for the month. Adjusted for seasonal factors in the workplace, the rate was 10.5 percent, down a tenth. The state figure for November 2010 was 9.8 percent. The nation’s unadjusted rate for this November was 8.2 percent, down three-tenths for the month.

Fewer people reported being unemployed locally — 2,270 compared with 2,450 in October — but totals showed 21,000 in the labor force in November, down from a revised 21,300 a month earlier. Statewide, the number of people listed unemployed fell a second straight month, to 129,800 from a revised 140,900 the previous month. Most job growth came in the trade and transportation and utilities sectors.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Mississippi’s 30 casinos reported winning $165.8 million from gamblers in November, down nearly 8 percent from $179.6 million in the same month in 2010, according to Mississippi Department of Revenue figures. For 11 casinos on the Gulf Coast, winnings totaled $81.1 million, down 5 percent from last November and the worst showing in almost 11 years.

The 19 Mississippi River casinos, which include five in Vicksburg, reported winning $84.7 million, down 10 percent from $93.9 million in November 2010. Winnings at river casinos are down 12 percent through the first 11 months of the year, reflecting the impact of historic flooding on the river in May and June. Gulf casino winnings are now down 1 percent for the year, with a poor second half of 2011 wiping out gains from earlier. Statewide, gross revenue is down 7 percent for the year, to $2.05 billion.

Gaming revenue taxes paid to local government by Vicksburg’s casinos for November were unavailable this morning. In October, the amount paid to the city was up 10 percent from the previous October. Taxes paid to the county were up more than 25 percent.

Casinos in Vicksburg pay a 3.2 percent revenue tax to the state, of which 10 percent goes to schools, 25 percent to Warren County and 65 percent to the city. A second tax is a 0.8 percent share of the state’s 8.8 percent revenue tax. It is split based on population proportions between Vicksburg and Warren County.

Scott King, who directs the Mississippi Gulf Coast Business Council, said signs of recovery from a weak national economy seen in the gaming industry in late 2010 have dissipated.

“I don’t think there’s any hiding or glossing over the fact that 2011 has not been a good year for casinos,” King said.

King said two racetrack casinos in Arkansas are growing rapidly, and that might be contributing to revenue declines at casinos in Tunica and Greenville.

“There are players from Arkansas who might gamble there out of convenience,” he said.

Mississippi’s casinos are on track for the fourth straight year of declining revenue since the all-time high in 2007 of $2.89 billion.

Casino revenue fell 4 percent in Louisiana in November, although it rose 8 percent in Nevada in October.

Continuing consistent trends, Rankin and Clay counties registered the state’s lowest and highest respective jobless rates in November. Rankin was at 6.1 percent, down from a revised 6.7 percent a month ago, and Clay County was 18.6 percent, down from a revised 19.3 percent.

Claiborne County’s jobless rate fell to 15.5 percent from 16.6 percent for the month. Sharkey County held at 10.7 percent, while Issaquena fell to 10.3 percent from 10.8 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.