Panola County unemployment rate at 8.3%

Published 10:55 pm Tuesday, September 7, 2021

New Bureau of Labor data shows that unemployment in Mississippi remained stubbornly high in July at 6.1 percent – little changed from what it was over the previous quarter.

Unemployment in Mississippi peaked at 15.7 percent in April 2020, at the height of the Covid shutdown. But as the latest data confirms, unemployment still remains significantly above what it was before the pandemic, when the unemployment rate was as low as 4.8 percent.

Panola County’s unemployment rate is 8.3 percent. In comparison, the unemployment rate in Lafayette is 5.9 percent, Tate is 6.8, Quitman is 10.0, Yalobusha is 6.7, Tallahatchie is 7.2, Tunica is 9.1, and Marshall is 7.0.

Mississippi’s jobless rate, according to the latest data, is above that in neighboring states with low or no state income tax, such as Tennessee (4.7 percent) and Alabama (3.2 percent).  

Despite a labor shortage nationally and in Mississippi, the number of those without work is above what it was before the pandemic. This suggests that some of the federal Covid relief measures might have contributed to the labor shortage by creating unintended incentives.

Data shows that Mississippi’s state budget is in record surplus. Total revenue collections for FY 2021 as of August 1st, 2021 were $6,741,012,015, meaning that the budget has a surplus of about $1,164 million – according to new data released by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. 

Much of the budget surplus is illusory, however. It is a consequence of federal handouts and Covid spending. A significant portion of the $1 billion surplus, however, is expected to be recurring. This means that Mississippi’s fiscal status offers policymakers a historic opportunity to offer meaningful tax breaks without incurring debt or spending any “rainy day” funds.