Louisiana added 3,000 nonfarm jobs over the 12 months ending Aug. 31, lifting the state’s total to 1,982,500.
The state lost jobs in four of 11 sectors: mining and logging, which includes the oil and gas industry; government; construction; and trade, transportation and utilities. The mining and logging sector lost 7,900 jobs, or close to 15 percent of its total.
“The August data shows a continuation of the long-term trend of more jobs and more people working in Louisiana. Were it not for job losses related to the price of oil, we would expect even better numbers,” said Curt Eysink, executive director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission. “The longer the price of oil stays low, the more we would expect to see collateral impact on other sectors.”
The education and health services sector enjoyed the biggest gain, adding 10,600 jobs over the 12-month period.
Louisiana’s economic picture is very much a function of geography, said economist Loren Scott. The Lafayette, Houma-Thibodaux, Shreveport-Bossier City, and even the New Orleans, areas are feeling the effects of losses in the oil and gas industry.
The industry is expected to recover, but the question is how long that will take, Scott said.
Meanwhile, the Baton Rouge and Lake Charles areas are enjoying the gains generated by massive industrial projects, more than $130 billion worth at last count, Scott said. Those projects are creating lots of construction jobs, and the impact of all the spending on the projects and the construction jobs is rippling through the local economies.
Meanwhile, Louisiana’s jobless rate dropped to 6.3 percent in August, down from 7.4 percent a year ago, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A separate weekly report Friday showed first-time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana for the week ending Sept. 12 decreased to 2,015 from the previous week’s total of 2,417. For the comparable week a year earlier, there were 2,071.
The Workforce Commission said wholesale trade had the largest over-the-week decrease with 47 fewer claims. Initial claims for mining, which includes oil and gas exploration and extraction workers, decreased from 111 to 88.
The four-week moving average, which is a less volatile measure of claims, decreased to 2,322 from the previous week’s total of 2,454.
Continued unemployment claims for the week ending Sept. 12 decreased to 24,253 compared with 24,425 the previous week.
The four-week moving average for such claims decreased to 24,920 from the previous week’s average of 25,464.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter, @tedgriggsbr.