The Baton Rouge metro area added 10,300 jobs during the 12-month period ending in March, but that wasn’t enough to keep Louisiana’s nonfarm job count from dropping by 15,500 during the past year.
Four of the state’s nine metro areas posted job losses. Metro areas heavily dependent upon the struggling oil and gas industry, such as Lafayette and Houma-Thibodaux, were hit hardest, according to figures released Friday by the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
Baton Rouge area employment is at a historic high at 412,200 nonfarm jobs, the commission said. The figures are not seasonally adjusted. The capital region has experienced 63 consecutive months of year-over-year job gains, even during a time of severe budget cuts at LSU and Southern University and cutbacks in state government.
Construction was the biggest gainer in the local economy, with the industry adding 5,000 jobs since March 2015, a gain of 10.2 percent. The number of information jobs grew by 800 during that period, a 13.1 percent increase. Retail trade added 1,000 jobs, a 2.4 percent gain. Health care added 1,300 jobs, a 2.8 percent increase.
State government shed 700 jobs over the past year, a 1.9 percent decrease.
New Orleans: The city posted a modest 1,000-job gain, or 0.2 percent, which boosted the total to 573,300. The Crescent City was aided by 2,200 more jobs in the health care and social assistance field, a 3.5 percent gain, and 1,400 more jobs in nondurable goods manufacturing, which raised employment in that sector by 8 percent.
But the city lost 1,100 state government jobs, a 7.8 percent decrease; 1,100 mining and logging jobs, which includes the oil and gas industry, a 14.7 percent decrease; and 1,100 financial activities jobs, a 3.8 percent drop.
Lafayette: It saw year to year employment drop by 9,300 jobs to 208,400, a 4.3 percent decrease. The Acadiana area saw mining and logging jobs drop by 4,900, or 23.1 percent. Manufacturing, which covers equipment and goods for the oil and gas industry, was down by 3,900, or 20.5 percent.
Houma-Thibodaux: Bayou region employment was down by 6,500 jobs, or 6.6 percent, to 92,200 nonfarm workers. Mining jobs were down by 1,100, or 13.8 percent. Support activities for transportation shed 800 jobs, or 12.5 percent.
Hammond: The metro area was down 300 jobs, or 0.7 percent, to 43,300. The job losses came in the goods-producing category.
Other cities: Lake Charles added 3,100 jobs, a 3.1 percent gain. Monroe saw employment increase by 700 jobs over the year, an 0.9 percent gain. Alexandria added 300 jobs, which was a 0.5 percent boost. Shreveport-Bossier lost 1,800 jobs over the past year, a 1 percent decline.
Louisiana’s civilian labor force, which includes people who are working and unemployed people who are looking for jobs, dropped by 22,625 for the year, putting the labor force at a seasonally adjusted 2.16 million.
Statewide, the nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rate in March was 6.1 percent, down from 6.4 percent a year ago, but above the national unemployment average of 5.1 percent.
Baton Rouge’s unemployment rate was 5 percent, down from 5.6 percent last year; New Orleans, 5.6 percent, down from 6.9 percent; and Lafayette, 7.1 percent, up from 6.2 percent in March 2015.
A separate weekly report Friday showed first-time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana for the week ending April 16 decreased to 2,791 from the previous week’s total of 2,997. For the comparable week a year earlier, there were 2,789, The Associated Press reported.
The four-week moving average, which is a less volatile measure of claims, decreased to 2,692 from the previous week’s total of 2,714.
Continued unemployment claims for the week ending April 16 decreased to 22,685 compared to 22,941 the previous week. The four-week moving average for such claims decreased to 22,533 from the previous week’s average of 22,550.
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