Baton Rouge and New Orleans led the way as seven of Louisiana’s eight metropolitan statistical areas increased their nonfarm job totals for the year ended Nov. 30.
Numbers released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics were not seasonally adjusted. They showed Louisiana gained 18,700 jobs after metro gains were offset by some rural parishes’ job losses. Still, the overall 0.9 percent increase pushed the state’s nonfarm job total within 1,700 of a mark never seen in Louisiana — 2 million.
“We’ve seen strong labor force growth in recent months, which is what Louisiana employers need,” said Curt Eysink, executive director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission. “Our forecasts show robust job growth in much of the state for the foreseeable future.”
The Baton Rouge area gained 7,500 jobs over the 12 months, finishing at 399,900. That was a gain of 1.9 percent.
LWC reports Tuesday showed 5,600 new construction jobs bolstered the area’s November performance. Local government jobs increased by 2,100.
Retail trade in the Baton Rouge area, however, lost 2,000 jobs, and another 1,600 workers left the trade, transportation and utilities sector.
New Orleans-area jobs increased 0.9 percent to 558,900.
Education and health services accounted for 6,300 of those job gains for November in the New Orleans area, the LWC reported. The leisure and hospitality sector lost 2,600 employees.
Lafayette’s metro jobs totaled 166,000 last month, a gain of 3,600 or 2.2 percent. Support activities for mining — which includes oil and gas work — lost 300 jobs. Both the manufacturing and trade-transportation-utilities sectors gained 800 jobs.
Other job gains were recorded for Lake Charles, 2.6 percent; Houma-Thibodaux, 1.6 percent; Shreveport-Bossier City, 1.5 percent; and Monroe, 0.6 percent.
Alexandria was the only metro area to lose jobs. That loss totaled 500, or 0.8 percent.
While the state’s job numbers were up at the end of November, its year-over-year unemployment rate also climbed up the chart.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ seasonally unadjusted figures showed Louisiana’s unemployment rate was 6.3 percent last month. That was 1.3 percentage points higher than the jobless rate for November 2013. It also was 0.8 percentage point higher than the nation’s unemployment rate of 5.5 percent for last month.
For seven months, Eysink has said continuing expansion of Louisiana’s unemployment rate is due to an influx of people hoping to grab jobs generated by the state’s current industrial boom.
That boom includes ongoing or announced plant construction or expansion projects totaling more than $100 billion. Many of those projects line the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Several others line the Calcasieu River between Lake Charles and the Gulf of Mexico.
Some prominent economists — including Baton Rouge consultant Loren Scott — have predicted that Louisiana will gain more than 66,000 jobs over the next two years.
The BLS’ unemployment numbers measured the state’s civilian labor force, which includes both people on unemployment rolls and others attempting to find jobs.
Each of the state’s metro areas showed year-over-year increases in unemployment rates.
New Orleans’ jobless rate ticked upward by 1.4 points to 6.4 percent.
Unemployment in the Baton Rouge area grew by 1.1 points to 5.9 percent.
Lafayette-area unemployment added 1.1 points and finished at 4.9 percent.
The state’s lowest unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in the Houma-Thibodaux area. Even that was 1.1 points higher than the rate estimated by the BLS a year earlier.
Lake Charles’ unemployment rate grew by 1.0 points to 5.6 percent.
Other metro area unemployment rates last month included Alexandria, 6.8 percent, an increase of 1.6 points; Shreveport-Bossier City, up 1.2 points to 6.8 percent; and Monroe, up 1.5 points to 6.8 percent.