Louisiana Workforce Commission

The number of first-time unemployment claims in Louisiana dropped again last week, but the number of people who continued to get jobless benefits continued to hold fairly steady.

There were 13,402 initial unemployment claims filed during the week ending Saturday, according to figures released Thursday by the Louisiana Workforce Commission. That’s down from the 18,511 first-time claims filed the week ending July 25. In comparison to more typical numbers, 2,126 first-time claims were filed the same week last year.

The number of first-time unemployment claims in Louisiana dropped sharply last week, but the number of people who continued to get jobless benefits rose.

There were 18,511 initial unemployment claims filed during the week ending Saturday, according to figures released Thursday by the Louisiana Workforce Commission. That’s down from the 32,079 first-time claims filed the week ending July 18. In comparison to more typical numbers, just 2,022 first-time claims were filed the same week last year.

Continuing claims rose to 324,357 last week from 313,117 the previous week. In comparison, the number of claims for the same week in 2019 was 17,740.

Along with the 324,357 unemployed workers, another 155,000 freelancers, independent contractors and other "gig" workers are estimated to have lost jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and are counted separately. 

Last week was the final time unemployed residents got an extra $600 in benefits from the federal government, though  Congress is considering plans to extend the benefits in some way.

Stephen Barnes, director of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Blanco Public Policy Center, said the drop-off in first-time claims wasn’t caused by the expanded benefits running out. If anything, payments ending should have caused people to take jobs, reducing the number of continued claims.

“Not to lean heavily on one week of numbers, but we may have settled into this new normal,” Barnes said. Businesses have made the staffing adjustments they needed to, reducing the number of first-time claims, but the economy is still not ready to start moving again and hiring significant numbers of workers, he said.

If the continuing claims ease next week, then Barnes said that will show workers returned to the job market after exhausting their benefits. “But I worry that the broader story is businesses are not ready to hire a bunch of people,” he said.

There were 2,831 new claims from unclassified workers, reflecting people who worked at new businesses that haven’t gotten an industry code yet from the workforce commission, Barnes said. Accommodation and food services, an industry hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, had 2,692 new claims; construction, 1,753; retail trade, 1,750; and health care and social assistance, 1,747.

For continued unemployment benefits, accommodation and food service business, accounted for 77,809 claims; retail trade, 38,619 claims; health care and social assistance, 33,007; and construction, 30,035.


Email Timothy Boone at tboone@theadvocate.com.