Six of nine Louisiana metro areas lose jobs, but state still up overall _lowres

Unused inland drilling rigs are stacked together at the Port of Iberia. Low crude prices have contributed to a loss of oil and gas jobs in Louisiana, particularly in the Lafayette and Houma-Thibodaux metro areas.

ADVOCATE FILE PHOTO

Six of Louisiana’s nine metropolitan areas lost nonfarm jobs over the 12 months through May 31.

Big gains in the Baton Rouge, Lake Charles and Hammond areas, however, helped the state gain 8,100 nonfarm jobs over the same period, the Louisiana Workforce Commission reported Tuesday.

Louisiana’s nonfarm employment finished the 12 months at 1,994,300 — a total based on preliminary numbers that are not adjusted for seasonal factors.

Job losses in the oil and gas industries and among businesses that support that sector continued to cause pain, however.

Across the state, they totaled 5,900 in mining and logging — the category for those jobs — over the 12-month period.

Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, said a year-long downturn spawned by low oil prices appears to have bottomed out, and prices could soon rise to $65 per barrel. Briggs cautioned, though, ongoing negotiations by the U.S. and Euro members over Iran’s nuclear program possibly could send oil prices into a second downward spiral.

“We’re waiting to see what happens with Iran next month,” Briggs said, adding that an agreement on nuclear issues could result in Iran being allowed to sell massive quantities of oil to western nations. “They’ll produce 1 million barrels per day if they turn on the spigots.

“It’s assumed that the Saudis will cut their production,” Briggs noted. “That remains to be seen.”

Added Briggs: “The (oil-and-gas) industry has trimmed about as much as it can trim. I’m really concerned about what’s going to happen with Iran.”

Meanwhile, other jobs in other sectors are filling some of the gaps created by oil and gas layoffs.

BATON ROUGE: The metro area gained 5,900 nonfarm jobs and finished the year at 401,900 — a record for the month of May. The largest employment gains were recorded in the professional-and-business-services sector and construction.

LAKE CHARLES: Leisure-and-hospitality job gains, as well as a big boost in construction jobs helped push the metropolitan area’s nonfarm employment total to 102,800 — a one-year gain of 5,800.

HAMMOND: The state’s newest and smallest metro, which includes only Tangipahoa Parish, gained 1,000 jobs over the 12 months and finished at 44,700.

LAFAYETTE: The year-long slump in oil prices — which declined from more than $100 per barrel to a current level under $60 — slashed 1,600 nonfarm jobs from the Acadiana area. Mining and logging — the sector that includes oil and gas jobs — lost 1,800 jobs year-over-year. Other sectors picked up some of the slack but not enough to avoid the areawide loss. The metro ended the year with a total of 221,000 jobs.

NEW ORLEANS: The state’s largest job market lost 400 employees over the 12 months and finished with a total of 566,000. A loss of 3,200 construction jobs was nearly erased by a gain of 3,100 new paychecks in the education and health services sector.

HOUMA-THIBODAUX: Metro jobs in this coastal area decreased by 300 and finished the year at 101,200. The number of people in mining and logging declined by 500. Gains in several other sectors, however, nearly covered those losses.

SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY: Louisiana’s largest metro job loss occurred in its northwest corner, where employment declined by 2,000 people and dropped the area total to 182,800. State and local government jobs decreased by a combined total of 1,400. The mining and logging sector, as well as the retail trade sector, lost a combined 1,000 jobs.

MONROE: In the northeast corner of the state, the Monroe metro lost 900 jobs and finished at 77,400.

ALEXANDRIA: Two hundred jobs disappeared from the mid-state metro, leaving it with a total of 63,300. The area lost a combined 300 jobs in state and local government but gained 100 new federal employees.

Editor’s Note: This story was changed on July 1, 2015, to correct the number of oil and gas sector jobs lost statewide and in the Lafayette and Houma-Thibodaux metro areas.