Gov. Phil Bryant was bragging again recently about how low Mississippi’s jobless rate has fallen. The December unemployment rate was 4.5 percent, the lowest it’s been during that month in decades.
On Facebook, the governor posted that the December “number of jobs is the most ever recorded in Mississippi.”
That depends on how you measure it.
If you survey places of employment, and you make adjustments for the weather and other seasonal occurrences, the number of jobs in the state is the most since that methodology began being used in 1990, according to the state Department of Employment Security.
However, if you survey people and don’t make seasonal adjustments, the number of Mississippians with jobs in December was actually less than the month before and less than December 2016.
Mississippi’s jobless rate has indeed fallen, but it’s a misleading indicator because the fall has been precipitated not by the economy, which is flat, but by population loss and despair. Since December a year ago, more than 18,000 Mississippi residents either moved to another state or gave up looking for work.