Baton Rouge continues to hemorrhage jobs, losing 1,800 private- and public-sector jobs in June compared with a year before.
Many of the losses came from the goods-producing sectors as well as in public and private education as schools and universities shrank their summertime staffs. One theory is these reductions, which happen at the end of each school year, occurred at a larger rate than had been done in the past, said Patty Lopez-Granier, a researcher at the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
“There may be over-the-year reductions due to other factors, for example, budget cuts during the year,” Lopez-Granier said.
“Certainly, that’s part of the issue, maybe,” said James Richardson, a longtime LSU economist. “But I don’t think I would blame it all on that. I think it’s broader than that.”
Richardson noted that the goods-producing sector in Baton Rouge shed 2,400 jobs from a year ago, according to the state jobs report. The service-providing sector picked up 500 jobs over the year.
Baton Rouge has been generally regarded as a city that avoided the worst effects of the national recession. However, a look at the region’s job picture seems to show familiar signs of the national economy, Richardson said.
“Baton Rouge in some ways kept the same pace, or stayed in line with the national economy a little bit more than the rest of the state,” Richardson said. “We are more in tune with, or correlated with, what’s happening nationally.”
Since January, the Baton Rouge metro area has posted a net year-over-year job gain only in February - an increase of 400 jobs. The nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Baton Rouge was 8.4 percent in June, the highest of any of the state’s eight metro regions. The state’s unemployment rate in June was 8.1 percent.
Total nonfarm employment for the Baton Rouge metro area was estimated at 363,200 for June.
The only other metro area to report a net job loss in June was Monroe, where the job market shrank by 100 over the year, all of those in the service-providing sectors, according the jobs report.
Showing the largest job gains in the state were New Orleans and Alexandria - the state’s smallest metro region. The two were tied, each picking up 2,900 jobs in June, compared with 12 months ago, according to the monthly jobs report.
It’s not entirely clear what caused the surge in the central Louisiana city because Alexandria, “displays the least details in their nonfarm data,” Lopez-Granier noted.
However, Richardson said, part of the increase could be cyclical as Alexandria climbs out of its recession slump.
“They had it, they fell back, and they came back up. So it’s a fluctuating thing,” Richardson said. “And then the other element is ? Alexandria is more dependent on health care than any other region in the state.”
And indeed, most of the gains were in the service-providing sectors, gaining 2,500 jobs from June 2010. The state as a whole, gained health-care-related jobs in June. Alexandria is home to several public and private hospitals: Rapides Regional Medical Center, St. Francis Cabrini Hospital, the Alexandria VA Medical Center and the Huey P. Long Medical Center.
New Orleans - the largest metro region - lost 1,300 jobs in goods-producing sectors, which include manufacturing and construction. But the region gained 4,200 jobs in the service-providing sectors, compared with a year ago.
Lafayette posted a slight increase of 400 jobs in June, with minor increases in goods-producing and service-providing sectors.
Houma picked up 1,800 jobs in June, mostly in the service-providing sectors. And Lake Charles continues to see strong job growth, gaining 2,300 jobs, most of those also in the service-providing sectors, which climbed by 2,700 jobs in June.
The Shreveport region gained 1,900 jobs in June, with goods-producing employment growing by 1,700 jobs in the past year. The service-providing sectors added 200 jobs.