- Associated Press - Friday, March 25, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - After posting the nation’s worst jobless rate in January, Mississippi’s unemployment rate declined in February, leaving the state tied for second worst.

The jobless rate fell to 6.5 percent from 6.7 percent in January. That’s also below the 6.6 percent rate in February 2015. Growth in the number of people reporting jobs outstripped growth in the Mississippi’s labor force, a healthy trend.

Alaska recorded the nation’s worst unemployment rate at 6.6 percent.

A separate survey shows Mississippi payrolls added a strong 5,000 jobs in February, pushing payrolls almost 1.5 percent higher than in February 2015.

Both sets of figures, adjusted to cancel out seasonal changes, were released Friday by the U.S. Labor Department.

There were 86,000 Mississippians unemployed in February, down 2,000 from January, but 3,000 above February 2015.

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