Region ThrivingBy STAFF REPORTS,
The metropolitan area around Hattiesburg has blossomed economically as shown through the November unemployment figures as Mississippi recorded its lowest unemployment rate in history at 4.8 percent.
Forrest County’s unemployment rate has decreased for the past five months, from 6.0 percent in July to 4.1 percent in November.
Lamar County’s 3.2 percent in November was the lowest in the state, falling from 4.7 percent in June.
Todd Jackson, executive vice president for Economic Development at the Area Development Partnership, said the region’s economy “is thriving in many different sectors.”
“From the pillars of this economy in healthcare, military and education to a thriving industrial base and a retail sector that is routinely the second largest in the State of Mississippi, Lamar County and the Greater Hattiesburg region continues to lead the state in job growth which in turn results in extremely low unemployment rates,” he said.
With the metropolitan area that includes Hattiesburg, Lamar County Administrator Joseph “Jody” Waits said Lamar County is fortunate because of “a vibrant regional economy anchored by Camp Shelby, two universities, two hospitals and their related healthcare systems.”
“Lamar County is a great place to live with superior schools and access to great healthcare and so it attracts those who are employed not only in Lamar County but also surrounding counties,” he said. “The Board of Supervisors is supporting the needs of the growing population by building and maintaining roads and bridges as well as parks and recreational facilities among other things.”
Creating more jobs leads to lower unemployment, and Waits said Lamar County is able to create jobs in the industrial/manufacturing sector.
“We are actively marketing the Eagle One Mega Site, located along and between Highway 11 and Interstate 59, as well as the South Lamar Industrial Park, located in Lumberton, seeking to bring a large manufacturing facility into our area,” he said. “Such an operation could potentially employ hundreds if not thousands of people thus, adding a fourth anchor to our economy.”
The area’s leadership in both the public and private sectors realizes that business growth creates job opportunities, Jackson said.
“While this is great news at the moment, we must continue to be aggressive in the development of new business opportunities and further diversify employment options in the region,” he said. “The two main areas of focus to ensure this trend continues reside in continually growing and improving our workforce training efforts and always developing new real estate options for global companies to consider for their future expansion plans.
“As long as we remain focused on these critical areas and we continue to foster a business-friendly environment here in Greater Hattiesburg, this region will continue to lead our state and remain highly competitive within the Southeast United States.”
In Mississippi, the number of non-farm jobs in Mississippi rose by 3,400 in November to 1,159,000, which are the most jobs in Mississippi since February 2008.
Over the year since November 2016, the number of jobs in our state increased by 12,200. These numbers are based on a survey of employers. That employer survey is recognized as the most reliable indicator of job growth.
The Labor Force, which is made up of everyone who has a job or is looking for a job, increased in November by 300 to 1,272,600. Over the year since November 2016, the Labor Force fell by 10,500.
The number of people working in Mississippi rose in November by 2,100 to 1,211,800. For the year since November 2016, employment in our state increased by 500.
The number of unemployed Mississippians fell by 1,800 in November to 60,800, which is the lowest number of Mississippians without jobs since September 1979.
Over the year since November 2016, the number of unemployed Mississippians decreased by 11,000.