Louisiana added 13,400 nonfarm jobs over the 12 months ending July 31, lifting the state’s total to 1,978,800, with gains in each sector except government, oil and gas, and construction.
Health and education was the biggest gainer, with 10,500 jobs, while leisure and hospitality added 3,700 positions over the 12-month period, according to preliminary figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that are not adjusted for seasonal factors.
Mining and logging, which includes oil and gas, dropped 7,100 jobs, or 15 percent, to 47,300. Government was down by 4,300 jobs, and construction dipped by 200 jobs.
Meanwhile, the state’s jobless rate fell to 6.6 percent, compared with 7.2 percent a year earlier.
The drop in oil and gas employment wasn’t a surprise, given the trend that emerged this year, said Gregg Gothreaux, president and chief executive officer of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority.
“It’s obvious that some areas prosper when there’s inexpensive energy. That’s always been the tale of our state. One sector often does better when oil and natural gas prices are lower,” Gothreaux said.
For a few years, the state did experience a rare economic position, with high oil prices and low gas prices, Gothreaux said. So both the petrochemical and oil industries were doing well.
The oil industry’s job losses aren’t as bad as people feared, he said. Unfortunately, the news hasn’t been good where oil prices are concerned. The spot price slipped below $40 late this week, and some analysts suggested the price could stick there.
All of that means Louisiana’s energy industry has a long road ahead, Gothreaux said.
Kenneth D. Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America, said the New Orleans metro area accounted for all of the decrease in Louisiana’s construction employment and more between July 2014 and July 2015.
New Orleans lost 2,700 construction jobs over that period, Simonson said. The metro area has experienced the wrap-up or leveling off of Hurricane Katrina recovery-related construction, such as the $1.1 billion University Medical Center and Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Other sectors that added jobs included manufacturing, up 2,500 jobs; trade, transportation and utilities, up 1,800 jobs; information, up 1,200 jobs; financial activities, up 1,500 jobs; professional and business services, up 2,700 jobs; and other services, 1,200 jobs.
The number of people in the workforce — those employed or seeking work — increased by 16,500 people, Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary figures show. There were 145,600 people out of work in July, 13,200 less than a year ago.
A separate weekly report on first-time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana for the week ending Aug. 15 increased from the previous week’s total.
The state labor department figures released Friday show the initial claims increased to 2,544 from the previous week’s total of 2,445. For the comparable week a year earlier, there were 2,342.
Public administration had the largest increase in initial claims, followed by health care and social assistance.
The four-week moving average, which is a less volatile measure of claims, decreased to 2,495 from the previous week’s total of 2,532.
Continued unemployment claims for the week ending Aug. 15 decreased to 26,429, compared with 26,997 the previous week. The four-week moving average for such claims decreased to 27,222 from the previous week’s average of 27,611.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter, @tedgriggsbr.