N.O., Houma down slightly
Baton Rouge and Lafayette saw a surge in the number of nonfarm jobs in August, compared with the year before, while New Orleans saw a modest decrease in the same period, according to information released Tuesday by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics:
LAFAYETTE: There were 165,200 total nonfarm jobs in August, compared with 151,000 jobs in August 2011, based on the preliminary numbers distributed by the Louisiana Workforce Commission. Lafayette was boosted by more jobs in the oil and gas, manufacturing, construction and retail industries.
BATON ROUGE: The capital area saw a 5,400-job increase, going from 363,100 nonfarm jobs in August 2011 to 368,500 last month. Baton Rouge’s improved jobs picture is based on increased hiring in the construction, retail, education and health care sectors, the report shows.
NEW ORLEANS: Its total jobs fell by 300 over the 12-month period to 521,000. The drop in jobs in New Orleans was due to a decrease in employment in the construction, manufacturing and government sectors.
LOUISIANA TOTAL: Overall, the number of Louisiana jobs increased by 39,300 to 1.93 million in August.
The Workforce Commission says private sector job growth across the state was up by an annual rate of 2.5 percent in August, good enough for the eighth-best performance of any state in the U.S.
Overall job growth was up 2.1 percent statewide.
Some economists, most notably Loren Scott, have questioned the accuracy of the BLS estimates, which are based on sample surveys. Scott has said the problem is the estimates are based on sample sizes that are too small.
For example, the statistics say Lafayette posted a 9.4 percent increase in jobs in August; Scott has figures that show the highest growth rate Acadiana has reached over the past 32 years was 6.5 percent in 1997.
Other Louisiana metro markets showing job gains:
LAKE CHARLES: It was another big jobs gainer in August, reporting an increase of 1,600 over the previous year to 89,000. Gains in the service sector accounted for most of the new jobs.
ALEXANDRIA: It saw a modest gain, adding 300 jobs from August 2011 for an estimated total of 63,400.
SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER: It also saw a small increase over the past year, adding 400 jobs to come in with 178,900.
Houma-Thibodaux and Monroe joined New Orleans in reporting a small decrease in the number of jobs in August:
HOUMA-THIBODAUX: It was down 600 jobs over the past year to 94,100.
MONROE: It was down by 100 in the same period, to 75,600.
The increase in jobs, along with a decrease in the number of people who aren’t working, led to a drop in the Louisiana unemployment rate from 7.6 percent in August 2011 to 7.3 percent last month. Those figures are not seasonally adjusted.
Baton Rouge and Lafayette had unemployment rates below the state average. In the Capital Region, unemployment was at 7.2 percent in August, while in Lafayette it was 5 percent. New Orleans was slightly worse than the state average, at 7.5 percent.
Curt Eysink, executive director of the workforce commission, said every metro area saw a drop in unemployment in August, a month that is usually boosted by people going back to school. “It’s encouraging that the improvements in employment are spread across the state,” Eysink said in a release.
Louisiana had a 7.4 percent seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in August, better than the U.S. average of 8.1 percent unemployment.