Gov. John Bel Edwards and Andreas Löwenstein, Kopter Chief Executive Officer perform the ribbon cutting at the welcoming ceremony Saturday, March 9, 2019 at the former Bell Helicopter facility at Lafayette Regional Airport for the announcement of opening of the Kopter Production and Product Support Center which will deliver SH09 models throughout the Western Hemisphere using parts representing at least 50 percent of the aircraft's value from U.S. suppliers.

Louisiana's nonfarm employment increased by 5,600 jobs for the 12 months ending in February, as the state gained ground in seven of 11 economic sectors.

The 0.3 percent gain lifted Louisiana to 1,971,100 jobs in February, according to preliminary numbers released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The numbers are not seasonally adjusted.

Education and health services had the biggest increase, going up by 2.4 percent over the past 12 months to reach 321,000 jobs. Other services had a 1.5 percent gain to hit 74,300 jobs and manufacturing was up by 1.4 percent to 135,800 jobs.

Information had the biggest percentage drop, falling by 2,000 jobs or 8.4 percent from February 2018 to come in with 21,700 jobs. Construction was down by 3.3 percent to 142,100 jobs and the mining and logging sector, which includes oil and gas jobs, was down by 1.4 percent to 34,800 jobs.

The state's labor force — those with jobs or looking for work — dropped by 0.3 percent, or 5,355 people, to 2,102,555, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate was 4.9 percent, up from 4.7 percent in February 2018. About 102,300 residents were jobless in February. These figures are seasonally adjusted. The Labor Department said the national unemployment rate is 3.8 percent.

In a separate report, the Louisiana Workforce Commission said first-time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana for the week ending March 16 increased to 1,661 from the previous week's 1,584. For the comparable week a year earlier, there were 1,805.

The four-week moving average, which is a less volatile measure of claims, decreased to 1,676 from the previous week's average of 1,679.

Continued unemployment claims for the week ending March 16 decreased to 14,268, compared with 14,565 the previous week. The four-week moving average decreased to 14,921 from the previous week's average of 15,006.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.