While gasoline at the pump is costing a little more as the summer approaches, the impact of low oil prices is still being felt in Louisiana and likely will be for a while.
The key measure of nonfarm employment declined by 15,400 jobs in January from a year earlier. By February, the number was down by 21,200, or more than 1 percent.
The impact of layoffs and other cutbacks in the oil patch is seriously hurting tax collections, both for the state and particularly for local governments. At the same time that the oil patch is hurting, Louisiana continues to see significant long-term investments in the oil and gas industry, in the refining and petrochemical manufacturing side rather than the producing side.
State and local officials cheered when an investment of more than $700 million at Geismar was announced by Shell. Because industrial facilities are so heavily automated, projects like the Geismar expansion won’t completely make up the loss of oil production jobs, but the industrial construction jobs are welcome additions to the payrolls in the capital’s regional economy.
Oil and gas production remains key to our state’s overall economic health, and it’s not doing well at the moment.