Louisiana Workforce Commission

The Legislative Auditor has cited several concerns about the administration of the state's unemployment program during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of first-time unemployment claims in Louisiana dipped slightly last week, after two weeks of rising numbers, and those who are continuing to receive jobless benefits decreased as well, though still topping 300,000 people.

There were 20,191 people who made initial claims last week, according to figures released Thursday by the Louisiana Workforce Commission. That’s down from 23,243 first-time claims for the week ending June 13 and 22,002 new claims for the week ending June 6. The state's weekly first-time claim numbers had fallen as low as 19,334 in late May as the state's stay-at-home order loosened to allow certain businesses to operate at a higher capacity with social distancing and other restrictions in place.

The four-week average of initial claims has dropped to 20,965 from the previous week’s average of 22,074.

In comparison to more typical numbers, a year ago there were 2,238 initial unemployment weekly first-time claims filed in Louisiana.

Continuing unemployment claims for last week were down from 306,358 to 300,389, dipping below the 301,598 mark posted earlier this month. The continuing claims are still well above the figure for the same week last year, when there were 16,630 continuing claims.

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There were 2,869 new claims from people working in the accommodation and food services industry, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Unclassified workers made up the second-biggest category, at 2,481, while 2,225 construction workers lost jobs; 2,145 health care and social assistance workers made claims; and 2,022 retail trade workers filed for unemployment.

Once again, most of the people getting continued unemployment benefits had been in the accommodation and food service business, with that sector accounting for 73,441 claims. Retail trade accounted for 36,759 claims, while health care and social assistance made up 30,202 claims. There were 28,726 construction workers on continued unemployment.

Baton Rouge drops 52,800 jobs during first full month of pandemic shutdown

The workforce commission is set to release metro unemployment and jobs figures for May on Friday.

Louisiana shed 237,400 jobs statewide in May when compared to last year and the unemployment rate was at 13.3%. Those numbers were collected during the second week of May, before the partial lifting of Gov. John Bel Edwards' stay-at-home order and lag behind the weekly reports on unemployment claims and the number of people receiving benefits.

Email Timothy Boone at tboone@theadvocate.com.