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Baton Rouge's Earlene Johnson climbs the steps of the Mississippi River levee as she exercises with the goal of building muscle mass, Sunday, January 24, 2021. She was descending and ascending each set of steps, starting at the city dock and making her way toward the large red letters spelling out “BATON ROUGE” near San Francisco-based artist Po Shu Wang's stainless steel sculpture commissioned by the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge. Johnson planned to double back to her starting point and do each set of steps again, she said.

The Baton Rouge metro area added 3,800 jobs between January and February as the region continues its slow recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Capital Region had 388,500 jobs in February, down 22,400 jobs, 5.4% fewer compared to February 2020. 

Louisiana added 14,700 jobs month-to-month, for a total of 1.8 million, according to data released Wednesday by the Louisiana Workforce Commission. That's still down 158,000 jobs, or 7.9% from February 2020. The numbers are not seasonally adjusted.

The data was compiled through surveys conducted in mid-February which was before Louisiana removed capacity restrictions on most businesses for the first time in more than a year. Even so, social distancing requirements still restrict how many customers many establishments across the state can have indoors. Live music indoors has also returned with some limitations. 

A severe ice storm, which led to widespread power outages and road closures for a few days around Mardi Gras may have had an impact, according to local economists. 

As such, the Baton Rouge leisure and hospitality sector still has not fully recovered and was down 4,900 jobs over the year, or 12.5%, to 34,100, despite adding back 500 jobs between January and February. 

Construction has improved month over month, adding back 1,200 jobs since January but was still down 7,100 jobs, or 14.6%, for the year to 41,400 jobs overall. 

Education and health services, was down 3,100 jobs, or 5.6%, to 51,900 jobs for the year and had 300 fewer than in January. Professional and business services added 100 jobs since January, but was still down 3,000 jobs, or 6%, for the year to 46,900.

Other services, down 1,800 jobs, or 10.5%, to 15,200 jobs. Information, which includes the motion picture industry, was down 800 jobs over the year, or 15%, to 4,500 jobs.  Financial activities were down 1,100 jobs, or 6%, over the year to 17,000 jobs. All three sectors were flat month-to-month.  

Manufacturing lost 1,100 jobs over the year, or 3.6%, to 28,900 jobs, despite adding back 100 jobs between January and February.

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Federal, state and local government collectively added 1,700 jobs, up 2.2%, over the year to 78,800 jobs. Those gains were led by an increase in state government which grew 7.8% while local government contracted by 4.5% over the year. 

Trade, transportation and utilities lost 800 jobs over the year, down 1.1%, to 69,100 but added 600 jobs since January. 

The Baton Rouge unemployment rate, not seasonally adjusted, was 6.2% in February, down from 6.7% in January but up compared to 3.8% in February 2020.

Louisiana's February unemployment rate was 7.1%, down from 7.6% in January but up from 4.2% in February 2020. The U.S. unemployment rate was 6.6% compared to 3.8% one year ago.

LAFAYETTE AREA: Acadiana added 800 jobs between January and February to reach 188,200 jobs, but was still down 16,300 jobs, or 7.9%, compared to February 2020. Leisure and hospitality was down 1,800 jobs, or 8.4%, over the year to 19,400 jobs. Mining and logging, which includes oil and gas, was down another 400 jobs for the month, and 3,400 jobs over the year. The 26.7% decrease brought the number of jobs to 9,300. The unemployment rate in Lafayette was 6.5% in February, down from 7% in January but up from 4.2% in February 2020.

NEW ORLEANS AREA: The Crescent City metro area added 3,200 jobs between January and February to hit 524,600 jobs, which was down 66,000 jobs, or 11.1%, compared to a year ago. Leisure and hospitality added 1,200 jobs month-to-month for 62,400 jobs, down 30,400 jobs, or 32.7% over the year. Education and health services added 400 jobs month-to-month to 101,700 but was down 3,600 jobs over the year, or 3.4%. Professional, scientific and technical services added 1,500 jobs month-to-month but was down 6,500 jobs, or 8.2%, over the year to 72,100 jobs. Construction added 300 jobs month-to-month but was down 3,400 jobs over the year, or 11.8% to 25,300. The New Orleans unemployment rate was 8.6%, down from 9.1% in February but up from 3.8% in February 2020.

OTHER AREAS: Monroe lost 400 jobs month-to-month and lost 4,600 jobs over the year to 73,200; Alexandria was flat over the month and lost 1,900 jobs over the year to 59,600; Hammond added 300 jobs over the month to 45,300 jobs, still down 1,300 jobs over the year; Houma-Thibodaux added 500 jobs over the month but was down 5,700 jobs over the year to 81,100; Shreveport-Bossier City added 900 jobs month-to-month but was still down 13,500 jobs over the year to 165,700; Lake Charles added 1,400 jobs over the month but lost 18,800 jobs over the year to 91,400.

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