By Laurence Hilliard

Kemper County Messenger

Kemper County's unemployment rate for April remained at 6.9 percent according to preliminary figures from the Mississippi Department of Economic Security, the same as for revised March figures. But the rate decreased from 7.3 percent over the past 12 months.

Statewide, the unemployment rate was up slightly from 4.5 for revised March figures to 4.6 for preliminary April figures, but down nationwide, from 4.1 percent to 3.9 percent.

The preliminary April numbers show 240 unemployed in Kemper County from a labor force of 3,440. The number unemployed was the same for March.

The state and national unemployment rates both show a significant decrease since April 2017 – from 5.3 percent to 4.5 percent for the state and 4.4 percent to 3.9 percent nationwide. There were 58,200 unemployed in the state for April, down from 67,900 one year earlier, according to MDEC figures. That's a significant 14.3 percent decrease in the number unemployed.

Only six of Mississippi's 82 counties had a higher unemployment rate than Kemper for March and surrounding counties are all lower. Neshoba is 4.2 percent, Lauderdale 4.5, Newton 4.5 Winston 4.9 and Noxubee 5.9.

Rankin County has the state's lowest unemployment rate at 3.1 percent. Jefferson County, at 10.5 percent, is the only Mississippi County with double digit unemployment, but that figure did decrease from 12.3 a month earlier.

There were 13 initial claims for unemployment benefits from Kemper County in April and 173 continued claims with total payments of $25,261.

The unemployment rate for East Central Planning and Development District, which includes Kemper County, was 4.5 percent for preliminary April figures, down from 4.8 percent for the revised March figures. For the East Mississippi Community College District, the unemployment rate decreased from 4.9 to 4.5 percent.