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Mississippi unemployment shows a rocky path to recovery



(Photo by Preetifd1990 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
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Mississippi’s unemployment picture continues to tread a rocky path to recovery from the COVID-19 shutdowns.

For the week ending June 27, the state’s unemployment rate is 13.3%, rising for the first time since a peak of 18.7% in early April. The rate had been falling steadily since then, reaching a low of 8.75% for the week ending June 20.

The numbers of first-time unemployment claims also show a mixed picture.

For the week ending July 4, 11,850 Mississippians filed first-time claims, the lowest number since March. While that shows improvement, the figure is still more than 10 times the number of weekly claims filed before the state began reacting to the virus. The four-week average of new claims is 14,768.

When first-time Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims are added to the mix, the number increases by nearly 5,000 people. PUA is a federal program extended to people who do not qualify for state unemployment programs including contract and gig workers.

Another federal program, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, added more than 4,000 people for the week ending June 20, the most recent data available. That program, which adds $600 to filers weekly state unemployment benefits, is scheduled to expire at the end of July.

All told, more than 400,000 Mississippians filed first-time claims since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the state March 11.

More than 141,000 people filed continued claims for the week ending June 27, up 44,000 from the previous week.

Nationally, more than 1.3 million new unemployment claims were filed for the week ending July 4.

Unemployment figures for May dipped to 11.1%. It was a big improvement over the peak of 14.7% reported for March but still higher than any time since World War II. Many of the new jobs reported in the last couple of months were due to businesses rehiring laid off workers after temporary closures.

More than 18 million American workers are not currently employed.

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