Job growth in Louisiana took a strong turn for the better, rising 2.4 percent in September, compared with a year ago.
The state showed a net gain of 44,900 nonfarm jobs in September, the Louisiana Workforce Commission reported Friday.
Louisiana’s trend is consistent with the nation, which has seen nonfarm employment increase in 47 states, decrease in two states and the District of Columbia, and remain unchanged in one state since a year ago, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Nationwide, employers added 103,000 net jobs in September, nearly double the number created in August. Still, that’s not enough to lower the nation’s unemployment rate, which stayed at 9.1 percent for the third straight month.
“The numbers show that Louisiana’s employment picture is improving significantly,” LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink said in a statement Friday. Louisiana’s unemployment rate fell to 6.9 percent in September, the lowest rate since July 2009 and 13th lowest nationally. “The best information in these numbers lies in what they tell us about trends, and the trends are all very positive for Louisiana.”
However, not everyone is convinced by the state’s job numbers. Loren Scott, a retired LSU economist and close follower of the state’s economy, said the job figures being released are simply too erratic to be completely trustworthy.
Last month the growth rate was 1.6 percent, Scott noted.
“And then it jumps to 2.4 (percent) in one month, and that’s just not normal,” he explained. “So I think once again, we’re having this problem of the way they’ve been gathering the data compared to the way they used to.”
In March, commission ceded the task of collecting the state’s job data to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This transition could result in some inaccurate data, officials said at the time.
The state’s seasonally adjusted civilian labor force — the number of people working or looking for work — last month totaled 2,038,445, up 6,372 over the month, according to the jobs report. The number of people employed in September stood at 1,897,265, with 141,180 unemployed.
In a separate report, the state said first-time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana decreased to 3,423 from the previous week’s total of 3,727.
The four-week moving average, which is a less volatile measure of claims, decreased to 3,402 from the previous week’s average of 3,438.
Continued unemployment claims for the week ending Oct. 15 totaled 41,338, an increase from 41,146 the previous week. The four-week moving average for such claims fell to 41,837 from the previous week’s average of 42,567.
The September employment report showed education and health services, which includes 291,000 jobs in the state, were the sectors seeing the most growth, up 18,700 jobs over-the-year. Manufacturing was up 8,100 jobs to 144,100; and trade, transportation, and utilities, 370,400, up 7,300 workers. Construction was up 4,700 jobs to 125,800; leisure and hospitality, 198,100, up 3,300. Both mining and logging at 54,500 and financial activities at 95,100 added 1,900 jobs annually. Information, which includes 29,200 jobs, was up 1,200. Professional and business services increased 800 jobs to 195,100 since September 2010.
In addition to an over-the-year 2,200-job decrease in government, annual declines were also in “other services,” down 800 to 65,300 for September 2011.
The national jobless rate was unchanged at 9.1 percent, but was 0.5 percentage point lower than a year earlier.
Nevada continued to report the highest unemployment rate among the states, 13.4 percent in September. California posted the next highest rate, 11.9 percent. North Dakota registered the lowest jobless rate, 3.5 percent, followed by Nebraska, 4.2 percent.