Rising unemployment rates questioned

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 20, 1999

Is Adams County’s unemployment rate really as high as 10.6 percent? Natchez Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown doesn’t think so, and he and the Mississippi Employment Security Commission are taking measures to correct it.

&uot;I kept watching the rate go up, but we’re announcing four or 500 jobs a year,&uot; Brown said. &uot;We’ve got people working everywhere. The only place you can see idle labor groups is at Titan Tire.&uot;

To calculate the unemployment rate in each county, the MESC sends a survey each month to certain employers in each county. Wayne Gusson, director of the labor marketing department at MESC, said the commission currently surveys 94 employers in county.

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&uot;What we attempt to do is survey every employer that has 10 or more employees,&uot; Gusson said.

But some employers are not returning their survey forms, which could be distorting Adams County’s unemployment rate, said MESC Executive Director Thomas Lord. The rate for January was 10.6 percent.

In the last two months, 24 employers did not return survey forms, Gusson said.

So the MESC is sending each employer it surveys letters from both Brown and Lord urging them to return the ir survey forms.

One of the problems may be that employers think returning the forms will affect their unemployment insurance rates, but Lord said the surveys are not related to the formula used to calculate those rates.

The letters are a step in the right direction toward correcting the umemployment rates, Lord said.

&uot;It could be that the figures are accurate,&uot; he said. &uot;But the ecomony seems to be doing quite well in the state. Construction is a good gauge of the economy.&uot;

Brown noted construction work at Natchez Regional Medical Center and the bluff work done by Hayward Baker as just a couple of examples of construction work in the city.

Brown said the city and county need accurate information on unemployment for such things as grant applications.h &uot;You want to have good accurate information to reap positive benefits,&uot; he said.