JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's unemployment rate dropped slightly to 9 percent in June, as fewer people looked for work.
A separate survey showed employer payrolls continue to grow in the state.
The figures were released Thursday by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Mississippi's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.1 percent in May and 9.2 percent in June 2012. An 8,000-person decrease in the labor force was the main factor for the June drop in Mississippi's jobless rate.
The state retained the third-highest jobless rate nationwide, behind Nevada at 9.6 percent and Illinois at 9.2 percent. North Dakota retained the lowest unemployment rate at 3.1 percent.
The national unemployment rate held steady from May to June at 7.6 percent, but was below the 8.2 percent rate of June 2012.
The state had 117,500 unemployed people in June, down from 119,500 in May, and 123,000 in June 2012.
The unemployment rate is calculated by a survey that asks how many people are looking for a job. A second survey each month asks employers how many people are on their payrolls, a measure many economists use as their top labor market indicator.
Mississippi's nonfarm payrolls rose to about 1.13 million people in June, up by 5,000 from May, and nearly 28,000 from a year ago. Those gains are promising signs of economic growth, but Mississippi remains almost 3 percent, or 34,000 jobs, short of its all-time peak in February 2008.
The state's leisure and hospitality sector increased payrolls by more than 2 percent in June, after adjusting for normal seasonal changes. Also adding workers were trade, transportation and utilities; professional and business services; construction and manufacturing. The education and health services sector fell more than 1 percent in June. Also shedding workers were financial activities and government.
The broadest measure of those who are unemployed averaged 15.5 percent in Mississippi during the 12 months that ended March 30, the most recent figures available. That number includes people who are looking for work only sporadically, have given up looking or are working part time because they can't find a full-time job.
Nationwide, that broad measure averaged 14.5 percent during the same time.
County-level rates will be released later.
BLS state unemployment report: http://1.usa.gov/104hKGL
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