Louisiana continued to add nonfarm jobs during the 12 months ending Aug. 31, despite job losses in six of the state’s nine metro areas.
The three labor markets with gains are Baton Rouge, Hammond and Lake Charles.
Louisiana’s nonfarm employment was estimated at 1,982,500 for August 2015, the highest figure for the month of August in the state’s history, according to the Louisiana Workforce Commission. That was 3,000 more jobs than in August 2014, a 0.2 percent increase that amounted to less than a tenth of the preliminary national growth rate of 2.1 percent.
The figures were not adjusted for seasonal changes.
“The Baton Rouge and Lake Charles metro area labor markets continue to lead the state,” LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink said. “The Houma and Lafayette markets are feeling the greatest effect of job losses caused by the low price of crude oil.”
Economist Loren Scott said massive industrial projects in the Baton Rouge and Lake Charles area are driving the job increases, with the New Orleans area also benefiting somewhat.
“The only problem is that New Orleans and Lafayette have a strong connection to the oil and gas industry, and that’s really showing up in the numbers,” Scott said.
Most of the job losses in Lafayette were oil- and gas-related, he said. New Orleans lost 900 oil and gas jobs.
On the plus side, there is little chance that the industry will see the catastrophic job losses that took place in the 1980s, Scott said. The industry now employs about 48,000 people, about half of what it did in 1981.
The industry is much leaner — base employment ranges from 45,000 to 48,000 people — and more efficient, Scott said. The oil and gas industry job cuts haven’t yet filtered through the rest of the economy, but retailers and other service businesses will begin feeling the impact.
Gregg Gothreaux, president and chief executive officer of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, said the jobs report is good news in one sense: The oil industry job losses are holding steady.
And health care employment has increased, he said. Health and technology are both sectors that could help the area get through this tough economic time.
Overall, the job losses are about half of what they were during the Great Recession in 2009 and 2010, Gothreaux said. But if oil and natural gas prices remain at the current levels, more jobs will be lost.
Among area labor markets, a partial list of the economic sectors shows:
BATON ROUGE: The metro area, buoyed by enormous industrial projects, led the state’s growth with 7,300 additional jobs. The construction sector and the professional and scientific and technical services sector each added 2,600 positions.
NEW ORLEANS: The metro area lost 2,200 jobs. Gains in education and health services were not enough to offset lower employment in construction and government.
LAFAYETTE: The metro area lost 3,000 jobs as the mining and logging sector, which includes oil and gas jobs, fell by 2,400 jobs.
HOUMA-THIBODAUX: The area dropped 2,300 jobs as the oil and gas industry lost 900 positions.
HAMMOND: The area added 500 jobs, with increases in services and government offsetting a dip in the goods-producing sector.
LAKE CHARLES: The area added 3,800 jobs. The leisure and hospitality sector added 2,400 jobs and construction added 500 positions.
SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY: The area lost 1,900 jobs, with oil and gas accounting for 700 positions.
MONROE: The area lost 800 jobs, with 500 of those positions in the private sector and 300 in state government.
ALEXANDRIA: The area lost 200 jobs, with 100 of those in state government.
Areas outside the nine labor markets added 1,800 jobs.
Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter, @tedgriggsbr.