La. adds 16,000 jobs over 12-month period

Louisiana added 16,000 nonfarm jobs during the 12 months ending in April, finishing up just under 1 percent at 1,943,700 jobs, according to seasonally adjusted data released Friday by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The private sector added 21,100 jobs during that period, but state, local and federal government employment fell by 5,100 jobs.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission said in a news release that Louisiana’s civilian labor force remains near its highest level since 2005. The state’s private employers have added jobs year-over-year for 32 consecutive months. Among sectors with the largest gains were construction, with 10,200 jobs, and trade, transportation and utilities, with 5,700 jobs, the workforce commission said.

A separate survey of households released by the BLS shows Louisiana’s seasonally adjusted civilian labor force — the total number working or looking for work — was 2,091,501 in April, an increase of 6,006 over the year. The April total is just 18,500 shy of the highest level since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Louisiana was one of only three states to see its seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rise from the previous month — up 0.3 percentage points to 6.5 percent in April. The unemployment rate the year before was 6.8 percent.

The workforce commission also reported Friday that initial unemployment insurance claims for the week ending May 11 decreased 5 percent from the previous week to 2,327. That total was down 31 percent from comparable week the year before.

April’s unemployment rate nationwide was 7.5 percent, while the Southern rate was 7.1 percent.

Solid hiring nationwide helped lower unemployment rates in 40 U.S. states last month, the most since November. The declines show the job market is improving throughout most of the country.

California, New York and South Carolina all reported the largest unemployment rate declines in April. Each state’s rate fell by 0.4 percentage points.

The report said 30 states added jobs in April, while 18 reported fewer jobs.

Nationwide, employers added 165,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate fell to a four-year low of 7.5 percent. The economy has added an average of 208,000 jobs a month since November. That’s up from only 138,000 a month in the previous six months.

Unemployment is declining in many states because the housing industry is creating jobs again. Rates have also declined because many of the unemployed have stopped looking for work. The government counts people as unemployed only if they are actively seeking jobs.

Texas has created 41,500 construction jobs in the past year. That’s helped the state be the nation’s leader in job growth over the past year. The state added 33,100 jobs last month and 326,100 jobs over the past 12 months.