Both new and existing state unemployment claims declined last week, with 16,182 new claims filed and 250,244 traditionally employed residents receiving continuing jobless benefits in the state.

Reflecting more typical claims, only 1,806 first-time claims were filed at the same time last year, with only 14,794 continuing claims being paid out, according to the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

There were 1,576 out-of-state new unemployment claims since many Louisiana residents are still evacuated to Texas and other states after Hurricane Laura raced up the western side of the Louisiana nearly three weeks ago. Another 7,564 new unemployment claims not paid for by the state but through the federal pandemic unemployment assistance fund and 135,466 nontraditional workers are getting federal benefits in Louisiana. 

Construction sector layoffs led the new unemployment claims for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic and its related economic recession began in late March, with 2,200 workers who told the state they don't have a job. 

About 2,513 individuals who live in hurricane-stricken Calcasieu Parish, where Lake Charles sits, filed initial unemployment claims last week, the largest unemployment cluster in the state by parish. East Baton Rouge Parish had 1,186 new unemployment claims, while Orleans Parish had 1,140 claims new claims. 

The population of Calcasieu Parish is about 200,000 residents, compared to East Baton Rouge Parish's more than twice that figure. 

The second-largest industry for new unemployment claims were accommodation and food services, 2,189, followed by 2,189 in arts, entertainment and recreation; 2,133 tied to jobs not yet classified by industry; and 1,687 from retail trade.

For those who were already unemployed and continuing to receive benefits, accommodation and food services was the largest industry cluster, with 56,160 claims, followed by retail trade, 28,245; health care and social assistance, 25,652; and construction; 23,052.

As of Sept. 9, there was $138 million in the state unemployment trust fund, down from $1 billion at the beginning of the year. The Louisiana Workforce Commission filed paperwork to potentially receive a federal Title XII loan, which can be borrowed for 0% interest but it's unclear when the money may be received. 

By the end of September, the Revenue Estimating Committee is expected to determine whether employers may face a higher unemployment tax burden and claimants may see lower benefits in January 2021. 

The unemployment fund has fallen to a level that will automatically trigger higher wage taxes on businesses starting in January to help replenish the fund. The same trigger also would reduce the maximum $247 unemployed workers receive weekly to $221 in January.

Even if the fund runs dry, unemployed workers would still get payments because the state is required to keep paying eligible claims.

Staff reporter Bryn Stole contributed to this story. 


Email Kristen Mosbrucker at kmosbrucker@theadvocate.com.