The state gained 29,000 jobs for the year ended Dec. 31, but still saw its unemployment rate rise as more people jumped into the job market.
Louisiana’s nonfarm employment totaled more than 1.99 million in December — just 7,800 shy of the never-reached 2 million mark, seasonally adjusted records released Tuesday by both the Louisiana Workforce Commission and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed.
“This growth, sustained over many months, represents thousands more opportunities for people in Louisiana,” said Curt Eysink, the LWC’s executive director. “We’re adding jobs at a strong pace, and our labor force is growing to match that increasing demand.”
For the eighth consecutive month, though, Louisiana’s unemployment rate increased in year-over-year comparisons.
“The statewide unemployment rate was 6.7 percent, up 1.3 percentage points over the year,” Eysink said. “Our unemployment rate is increasing because more people are entering the workforce — not from layoffs.”
The nation’s unemployment rate for December was 5.6 percent, down 1.1 percentage points over the year. In addition, the 17-state Southern regional average unemployment rate was 5.6 percent, according to the LWC.
BLS officials noted in their report for December: “The (nation’s) only statistically significant (unemployment) rate increase occurred in Louisiana.”
The BLS said 30 states had statistically significant unemployment rate declines over the year, the largest of which occurred in Illinois, down 2.7 percentage points, and Rhode Island, down 2.5 points.
“The remaining 19 states and the District of Columbia had rates that were not appreciably different from those of a year earlier,” BLS officials reported.
LWC officials said 145,969 unemployed residents were among Louisiana’s civilian labor force of 2.19 million in December. The civilian labor force includes both those people who have jobs and those who are unemployed. A year earlier nearly 2.1 million people were in the civilian labor force, of which 112,500 were unemployed.
The number of local, state and federal government employees continued to shrink in December, LWC officials reported. The combined loss over the year was 5,600. Four thousand of those lost jobs were in state government.
LWC officials said seasonally adjusted data showed state government employed 92,300 people at the end of 2014 — the lowest total since that statistic was first reported in 1990.
The only private sector jobs to decline from December 2013 to December 2014 were mining and logging, the sector that includes oil and gas extraction, down 600 jobs, and information, down 400 jobs.
Record employment occurred in trade, transportation and utilities, up 6,200 jobs to 396,400, and leisure and hospitality, up 6,000 jobs to 225,100.
A December record was established by the construction sector, where 5,900 new jobs pushed its total to 137,700.
Professional and business services gained 9,000 jobs and finished the year at 216,000.
Education and health services gained 4,400 jobs to 296,200.
Manufacturing jobs increased by 2,400 in December and finished at 147,700.
Financial activities grew 1,000 jobs to push its total to 96,600.