The Numbers Are In

April 2020 unemployment data was released this week for the nation and the numbers were as expected.

All three counties in the Golden Triangle experienced substantial spikes in unemployment percentages. Below is some information detailing what changes we’ve experienced as a region:

 

March 2020 Unemployment Rate

April 2020 Unemployment Rate

Clay

7.1%

24.6 %

Lowndes

5.0 %

15.7 %

Oktibbeha

5.1%

13.5 %

 

April 2020 Data

Labor Force 

(employed + unemployed people)

Employed

Unemployed

Clay

8,210

6,190

2,020

Lowndes

23,750

20,020

3,730

Oktibbeha

20,630

17,840

2,790

Source: Mississippi Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program and Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

While these numbers are expected to rebound back to lower averages in the coming months and year, it is likely that we will see unemployment information in the news for much longer. In an effort to help all of us better understand what is reported in the news and by agencies, we’ve listed some frequently used terms below. Most of these terms and explanations are sourced from the Society of Human Resources Management.

Layoff - A layoff is generally considered a temporary separation from employment due to a lack of work available for some temporary period. The term "layoff" is mostly a description of a type of termination in which the employee holds no blame. Most workers who experience layoffs are eligible for unemployment benefits.

Furlough - A furlough is a mandatory temporary leave or reduction in hours where an employee remains an employee of the company. Furloughs are often used when there is limited cash for payroll (e.g. government shutdowns) or there are simply not enough available workers to warrant staffing a shift (e.g. manufacturing furloughs due to COVID-related absences). Employees may continue to receive benefits coverage during a furlough and may also, if eligible, receive unemployment benefits during the furloughed period even though the employer continues to provide health case insurance and other benefits.

Unemployment Insurance - The U.S. Department of Labor's unemployment insurance programs provide unemployment benefits to eligible workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own and meet state eligibility requirements. Each state administers its own unemployment insurance program, and most employers pay state and federal unemployment tax to fund these benefits.

Unemployment Benefits - In Mississippi, if a person qualifies for unemployment benefits assistance, he or she is eligible for up to a maximum of $235 a week for 26 weeks, under normal regulations. The CARES Act extended that time frame by 13 weeks making a person eligible for unemployment for 39 weeks.

Unemployment Booster ($600) - Various names are used to describe the additional $600 unemployment booster that is currently provided by the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program that was put in place as part of the CARES Act. This program is set to expire in July.

Regardless of position or party, a few important points are worth noting about unemployment assistance.

First, when an employee files a claim for unemployment benefits, the claim is attached to a particular position at his or her place of employment. If a business reopens and recalls that person back to work to assume their previous job, the business is legally required to report the recalled position and employee to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES).  MDES then ceases further payments unemployment benefits to the recalled employee.   If the person receiving benefits declines to resume their position, their unemployment benefits will stop nonetheless (although it may take 1-2 weeks for benefits payments to cease).

Second, unemployment benefits are subject to state and federal income tax, including the extra $600 federal booster. A person receiving unemployment benefits can fill out a Form W-4V and request that the MDES withhold taxes, avoiding a surprise tax bill next year. Regardless of whether a person elects to withhold taxes from each unemployment benefits check or waits to see what taxes need to be paid when filing next year, getting some help from a professional to look at your withholdings is a good idea so that there are no surprises on April 15, 2021.

The bottom line is that our nation is facing record setting unemployment levels and our state and region are no exceptions. Moving forward, job revitalization and job creation will prove challenging, but not impossible, as we race back to a healthy economy and maintain a healthy population. Our region has displayed creativity and resiliency thus far, and we have faith those same traits will carry the Golden Triangle into the post-pandemic future.



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  • This is a very business friendly area and the LINK is an excellent resource staffed with very passionate people that also know their business extremely well and they’re creative. They understand the need for speed and necessity to minimize upfront costs of building or expanding a business. As a result, GTR LINK has been very successful in bringing good manufacturing jobs to the Golden Triangle Region.

    Madhu Ranade

    General Manager and Vice President at Steel Dynamics, Inc., Columbus Flat Roll Division

  • The workforce in Mississippi is exceptional. I’ve hired many veterans that worked in aviation during their military careers and moved back home to the Golden Triangle area. Airbus was able to use their skill sets and put them to work building multi-million dollar aircraft. The training that EMCC offers was so valuable to us, because they enabled our people to be trained in a variety of disciplines. This allowed for some of our people that had no aviation skills to be trained and hired as apprentices and grew our work force development program. People drive up to 75 miles to work for Airbus, demonstrating the work ethic and commitment of the men and women who live in Mississippi. We are very grateful for the caliber of people we are able to work with.

    Rob Boman

    Head of HR, Environment, Health & Safety

  • The PACCAR Engine Company continues to enjoy great success in hiring, training, and keeping local talent. From Assembly Operators associates, Machining Operators, to Craft Technicians, we have experienced a positive and dedicated workforce willing to learn new skills. Attracting quality new associates has not been an issue with us, but we face the same nation-wide challenges in finding associates with skilled trades. We are pleased for the results we have achieved by locating our facilities here.

    Mike Arzamendi

    Communication & Training Manager

  • They’re [GTR LINK] very responsive to companies and their needs for getting questions answers and providing data and resources.

    Alan Easome

    Senior Director, New Plant Development, Yokohama Corporation of North America

  • The Golden Triangle region has offered us a very energetic workforce with a great work ethic. There has been an abundant supply of laborers and skilled candidates, all willing to learn. Through various resources in the area we have always found what we needed and our employees are dedicated to the success of our plant.

    Ray Hamer

    Human Resources Director, Steel Dynamics, Inc., Columbus Flat Roll Division