Eager for work, an employee laid off from a bakery because of the coronavirus pandemic recently helped advertise a closeout sale at Neiman Marcus in New Orleans. Continuing unemployment claims dropped last week in the state, though newly filed claims had increased from the week before.

State unemployment benefits rolls declined again last week, with 249,610 jobless claims continuing to be paid compared with 250,720 the week before.

The drop occurred even though newly filed claims last week increased to 16,191 from 12,529 claims one week before, according to the Louisiana Workforce Commission. By comparison to more typical times, 1,881 new claims were filed a year ago for the same week.

Along with the nearly 249,610 more traditional unemployed workers, another 133,000 freelancers, independent contractors and other "gig" workers are receiving benefits and are counted separately. That number had topped 150,000.

Nationally, the number of laid-off Americans applying for initial unemployment benefits fell to a still-elevated 881,000 last week, evidence that the viral pandemic keeps forcing many businesses to slash jobs. All told, the government said that 13.3 million people are continuing to receive traditional jobless benefits, up from 1.7 million a year ago. Count the nontraditional gig and other workers, the U.S. Labor Department said 29.2 million people are receiving some form of unemployment benefits, but there may be double-counting occurring in some states.

The largest slice of new unemployment claims in Louisiana continues to be employees in accommodation and food services, with 2,558 employees freshly out of work last week. Some claims are not yet classified in a particular industry, about 1,796. Retail trade had 1,759 new claims; health care and social assistance, 1,472; and construction, 1,466. 

For those who are still out of work, or existing unemployment claims, hospitality jobs still lead with 57,255 individuals on jobless benefits. That's followed by retail trade, 28,645; health care and social assistance, 25,183; construction, 23,182; administrative and waste services, 19,962; and manufacturing, 11,694. 

Calcasieu Parish, which includes Lake Charles, had more new unemployment claims last week in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura with 1,768, exceeding East Baton Rouge and Orleans Parishes, at 1,309 and 1,411 new claims, respectively.

For the nine parishes that make up the Baton Rouge metro area, there were 2,065 new unemployment claims last week, up from 1,721 the week before. There are 40,220 individuals still on unemployment rolls, which is a significant improvement from its peak several months ago but much higher than during the last recession.

In the New Orleans metro area, there were 3,337 new unemployment claims filed last week, up from 2,376 the week before. There are still 82,115 people receiving jobless benefits, which is also an improvement but that region has been recovering more slowly.

Between June and July, both Baton Rouge and Lafayette gained several thousand jobs back to the economy whereas New Orleans lost several thousand more. 

In the Lafayette metro area, new unemployment claims dropped to 1,050 last week from 1,097 claims one week before. There were still 23,642 total people receiving benefits.

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