The latest jobs numbers for Louisiana were announced Friday, and they immediately became a political football in the governor’s race.
One set of numbers released by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that Louisiana has more jobs than a year ago, a plus for Gov. John Bel Edwards as he runs for re-election in the Oct. 12 primary. But another measure showed that the state has fewer jobs, a boon for his two Republican opponents, U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and businessman Eddie Rispone.
The dispute centers over whether to use the BLS’ seasonally adjusted or unadjusted numbers.
The Republican Governors Association emphasized the nonfarm seasonally adjusted numbers released by the BLS on Friday, an approach favored by the federal agency.
Under that count, Louisiana lost 1,000 jobs from July 2018 through July 2019 — making it the only state that lost jobs over that period.
“At a time when Louisiana should be taking advantage of a strong national economy to grow jobs and expand opportunity, John Bel Edwards' liberal tax-and-spend agenda is moving the state in the wrong direction, and working families are the ones paying the price,” Amelia Chasse Alcivar, a spokeswoman for the Republican governors, said in a press release.
Breitbart, an ultra-conservative website, immediately posted a negative story about Edwards.
“It’s just another example of John Bel Edwards’ failed leadership in Louisiana,” said Anthony Ramirez, a spokesman for Rispone. “We need a conservative outsider like Donald Trump to create jobs. That’s exactly what Eddie Rispone will do.”
Said Abraham through a spokesman: “There’s no way to spin it: John Bel Edwards is a complete failure. Help is on the way.”
The seasonally adjusted numbers showed that, compared to a year ago, Louisiana has more jobs in education, leisure and hospitality but fewer jobs in construction and government.
Meanwhile, however, the Edwards administration emphasized the seasonally unadjusted numbers for the past year, which showed the creation of 4,800 nonfarm jobs.
Administration officials also emphasized a separate measure, the unemployment rate, which is 4.3%.
“Louisiana continues to see its lowest unemployment rate in 11 years, which, when paired with our highest GDP and personal income on record, is good news for Louisiana,” Edwards said in a statement. “Between a stabilized budget with a modest surplus and attracting thousands of jobs to the state through our aggressive economic development efforts, Louisiana truly is headed on the right track.”
While the Republican Governors Association cited the seasonally adjusted numbers Friday, that hasn’t always been the case. In April, that same group criticized Edwards for job losses through March and cited the seasonally unadjusted numbers.