Mississippi unemployment third highest in nation

By Jon Kalahar - email

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi now has the third highest jobless rate in the country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But we aren't the only ones in trouble. Only four states showed reductions in the number of job seekers.

The parking lot outside the Jackson WIN Job Center is almost full, which is a good indicator of how tough times are. John McCarty is looking for a job in security.

McCarty said his search is, "like a needle in a haystack."

And he's not alone. Mississippi is down more than 2,000 manufacturing jobs since mid-summer. And a large number of employers, like Nissan, have cut back. High fuel costs have hurt auto sales and a tough housing market has affected furniture manufacturing in the northeastern part of the state.

But the tough part isn't just finding work. Job hunters say there's plenty of part time work available. It's finding that full time job, making enough money to support a family, that's so hard for so many.

McCarty is trying to make ends meet until he can get his teaching degree.

"I'm just trying to keep the bills paid until I graduate," said McCarty.

The national and state trends don't offer encouragement. This time last year unemployment was below five percent nationwide. Right now, it's over six percent. In Mississippi, the news is much worse. Ours is one of ten states with an unemployment rate higher than seven percent.

"I'm hopeful with my experience I'll be able to get this job I'm going for. If not, then you'll have to do odd and end things to keep the bills paid," said McCarty.

If there is a silver lining to all this, Toyota will open in 2010. And supplier companies near the plant will add even more jobs to the mix.