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Jackson County jobless rate improves slightly

Jackson County's unemployment rate improved slightly in February after hitting a five-year high in January.

The adjusted 9.5 percent January mark was actually higher by a one-tenth of a percent than the preliminary figures reported last month by the state employment department.

February's preliminary unemployment figure dropped to 9.3

The county's non-farm payroll employment increased by 970 in February, but in the past year, fell by 650 jobs. Manufacturing was virtually unchanged over the month and was down by 900 jobs from last year. Non-manufacturing employment added 950 jobs during the month, and has increased by 250 jobs in the past year.

Although payroll employment has decreased during the current recession, state research shows the local labor market has stabilized.

Within manufacturing, losses in some sectors were countered by gains in others with the net result a gain of 20 jobs. Lumber and wood products employment added 50 jobs over the month, with an increase of 70 in logging and sawmills offset by a loss of 20 in other wood products employers. Over the year, lumber and wood sector has lost 130 jobs.

Turning to non-manufacturing, strong seasonal hiring in the amusement and recreation services portion of other services contributed to a gain over the month of 310 in this sector. Local and state education, after declining slightly in January, added a combined 260 jobs in February.

However, education employment is down by 100 over the past year. Construction employment had a strong showing in February, adding 130 jobs, but is also down over the year, by 80 jobs. Wholesale trade gained 30 over the month, and following the fortunes of the manufacturing industries, is down by 80 for the year.

Services employment increased by nearly 500 for the month, and is Jackson County's most robust sector of the economy. Business services employment was up by 100 for the month, with gains in employee leasing and temporary help agencies helping to boost job counts.

Health services added 30 jobs, while social services gained 50 in February .These two sectors have added a combined 710 jobs over the past year.