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Mississippi unemployment rate at historic low while closer to U.S. average

DIVERGENCE: The U.S. unemployment rate has been historically lower since 1980 than Mississippi's statewide average. Graph by Steve Wilson

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mississippi's seasonably adjusted unemployment rate has fallen to a historic low, 4.5 percent, in February.

The previous record was recorded in January, as the state's economy shows signs of improvement. According to the state Department of Revenue, tax revenues also increased in February. Sales tax collections were $14 million more than the same time last year, while individual income tax collections also increased by $23 million.

This February was also one of the three times in the last 38 years that the U.S. and Mississippi averages have been either the same or within a few tenths of a percent of each other. The U.S. rate in February was 4.1 percent.

According to data from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, the biggest driver behind the historic unemployment rate is the record number of jobs in the state. According to its data from February, there were 1,163,700 jobs in the state. That's the most since jobs in the state since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began calculating state non-farm seasonally adjusted data in January 1990.

DISPARITY: Thirty of the state's 82 counties have unemployment rates below the national average. Graph by the MS Department of Employment Security

According to the MDES, there were 57,700 workers still in the labor force without a job, down from more than 69,000 at the same time last year. According to the MDES job search website, there are 1,651 open positions advertised in the state.

Rankin County had the lowest unemployment rate statewide (3.1 percent) as one of 30 out of the state's 82 counties that had an unemployment rate below the national average. Jefferson County in the southwest part of the state had the highest unemployment rate at 13.7 percent.

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