Big employment gains in the Baton Rouge and Lake Charles metro areas weren't enough to prevent the state from slumping to a 13th consecutive month of year-over-year job losses in August.
Job losses slapped five of the state's nine metro areas, with much of the misery attributed to the oil and gas industry's prolonged slump. Lafayette lost 8,700 positions; Houma, 3,300; New Orleans, 900; and Shreveport, 600. Alexandria lost 300 jobs for the year.
"The sad thing in all this is that it's questionable the degree to which those jobs will come back, even if the industry starts to pick back up again," said David Dismukes, executive director of the LSU Center for Energy Studies.
In order to cope with the downturn, the energy industry has streamlined and reconfigured operations, Dismukes said. Even if prices do start to rebound, no one expects them to do so quickly.
And there is little optimism that Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members will slow the amount of oil they're pumping to relieve the oil oversupply.
"Nobody's talking about reducing production. The best anyone is talking about is caps, and caps don't do anything," Dismukes said.
There is just too much inventory out there, and it will take a big increase in demand to cut into the oversupply, he said.
Meanwhile, Baton Rouge, as has become its custom, enjoyed the state's largest gain in nonfarm jobs, according to preliminary figures from the Louisiana Workforce Commission. Total nonfarm employment for the metro area was estimated at 411,800 for August, an increase of 7,000 jobs over August 2015. The Baton Rouge area has added jobs year-over-year for every month since January 2011. The numbers have not been adjusted for seasonal factors.
Lake Charles added 2,800 jobs over the year, while Monroe added 600 and Hammond 100.
Although the state lost jobs overall, education and health services remained a bright spot, growing by 9,300 jobs. The sector has seen over-the-year increases every month since October 2006.
Among the metro areas:
BATON ROUGE: The economic sectors with the biggest gains were education and health services, with 2,300 new positions; construction, 2,000; and retail trade, 1,300. Information dropped 500 jobs and government was down 300.
NEW ORLEANS: The state's largest job market continued to enjoy big gains in the health care and social assistance subsector — part of the education and health services sector — adding 2,200 jobs. But other economic sectors flagged, including retail trade, down 1,500 jobs; construction, 900 jobs; and mining and logging, which includes oil and gas, 800. August marked the 19th straight over-the-year decline for mining and logging.
LAFAYETTE: The suffering continued from the oil and gas industry's downturn. August marked the 19th consecutive month that over-the-year employment slid. Mining and logging dropped 3,300 jobs, the 20th consecutive month of over-the-year employment declines. Manufacturing dropped 3,100 positions. The sector has seen over-the-year declines for 22 months. Meanwhile, 2,300 jobs evaporated from the professional and business services sector.
HAMMOND: Service-providing employment increased by 500 jobs over the year. Goods-producing employment was down 400 jobs.
HOUMA-THIBODAUX: Trade, transportation, and utilities dropped 3,100 jobs over the year. Mining and logging lost 1,000 positions.
LAKE CHARLES: Industrial expansions helped boost employment, with construction adding 1,300 jobs, while manufacturing and retail trade each grew by 500 jobs.