Louisiana’s nonfarm employment fell by 11,500 jobs for the 12 months ending in November, as the state lost ground in seven of 11 economic sectors, with the biggest hit from the oil and gas industry.
The 0.6 percent decline dropped Louisiana to 1,997,400 jobs in November, according to preliminary numbers released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the same 12-month period, the U.S. added 2.65 million jobs, for an increase of 1.9 percent.
The state’s mining and logging sector, which includes oil and gas jobs, plunged by 10,100 jobs, or 19 percent. There are now 42,800 people working in the mining and logging sector statewide, the lowest number of workers since the bureau began its current tracking system in 1990.
Oil prices have fallen to the $35 per barrel level from more than $100 a year ago, deterring drilling activity. Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. this week held steady at 709, but that’s down 875 active rigs a year ago.
Other hard-hit job sectors in the state were trade, transportation and utilities, which lost 9,000 jobs over the year; government, which shed 6,000 jobs; and manufacturing, down 2,600 jobs.
The figures were not adjusted for seasonal changes.
“Although we have job losses related to oil prices, we still have thousands of jobs available in other sectors,” said Curt Eysink, executive director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
Eysink noted the number of construction jobs statewide was up 4,100 over the year to reach 146,600 in November. That’s the highest number of construction jobs in the state under the current Bureau of Labor Statistics tracking system. Low prices for natural gas — used as a raw material in making many chemicals and as a power source for industry — have contributed to a burst of industrial plant construction in south Louisiana.
Education and health services added 7,700 jobs over the year to reach 308,600 in November.
“Diversification of Louisiana’s economy is helping our state weather the cyclical impact of oil and gas prices, which have been at low levels for more than a year,” Eysink said.
The state’s labor force — those with jobs or looking for work — dropped by 2.9 percent, or 64,200 people, to 2,138,400, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate dropped from 6.8 percent to 5.9 percent. About 125,200 residents were jobless in November, compared with 148,700 a year earlier.
The U.S. unemployment rate remained 5 percent last month, a seven-year low.
A separate report from the Louisiana Workforce Commission showed first-time claims for unemployment insurance in the state increased for the week ending Dec. 12 to 2,443 from the previous week’s 2,414. For the comparable week a year earlier, there were 2,506.
The four-week moving average, which is a less volatile measure of claims, decreased to 2,454 from the previous week’s total of 2,642.
Continued unemployment claims for the week ending Dec. 12 increased to 21,530, compared with 21,501 the previous week. The four-week moving average for such claims increased to 21,944 from the previous week’s average of 21,460.
The commission said it will release November employment figures for the state’s nine metro areas and 64 parishes on Dec. 30.