February local, state job numbers up

The number of nonfarm jobs in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette and the state as a whole increased from February 2012 to February 2013, according to figures released Monday by the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

Louisiana gained 29,500 jobs over the year, or a 1.5 percent increase, putting the statewide total up to 1.9 million, according to estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Louisiana’s civilian labor force, which includes people who are working and those unemployed people who are looking for jobs, was up by 12,240 for the year, putting the labor force at nearly 2.1 million.

“Employers continue to add and create jobs, and our workforce is stronger than that it was a year ago,” Curt Eysink, executive director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission, said in a statement.

BATON ROUGE: The number of nonfarm jobs in metro Baton Rouge increased by 9,600 during the 12-month period. That 2.6 percent gain put the Capital Region at 381,400 jobs. The city saw job gains in a number of sectors, most notably construction, which went to 45,300 jobs in February from 39,500 a year earlier, and leisure and hospitality jobs, which increased to 35,200 from 33,900.

NEW ORLEANS: The metro area added 6,600 jobs in February, bumping the Crescent City up to 531,900. That was an increase of nearly 1.3 percent.

The city saw gains in the number of professional and business service jobs, going up to 72,600 from 68,800, and administrative and support service jobs, which went to 34,400 from 30,500.

LAFAYETTE: Lafayette added 3,500 jobs, a gain of 2.3 percent, to come in at 157,400 for February. Much of that gain came from an increase in private service-providing jobs, which were up 3,400 for the 12-month period to 104,500.

Lafayette posted strong job gains during 2012, which some local economists, such as Loren Scott, attributed to a new method for collecting numbers. Until a year or so ago, the estimates came from the Louisiana Workforce Commission, but that duty was switched over to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Scott noted that for the first seven months of 2012, Lafayette employment was up 9.6 percent, or 14,000 jobs. That was better than the oil boom years more than 30 years ago, like in 1981 when Lafayette added 12,200 jobs in a year.

Scott noted the BLS recently revised its metro job numbers for 2012. For the year, Lafayette added 4,800 jobs, to come in at 155,700, a 3.2 percent increase over 2011.

“That’s still very impressive,” Scott said. Baton Rouge added 7,000 jobs in 2012, to come in at an average of 375,200 for the year. That was a 1.9 percent increase. New Orleans added 4,600 jobs during the year to come in at 529,700, an increase of less than 1 percent.

OTHER METRO AREAS: Lake Charles added 2,300 jobs in the 12-month period ending in February to come in at 92,100; Houma-Thibodaux added 2,400 jobs to reach 95,200; and Monroe added 700 jobs for a total of 77,000.

Shreveport-Bossier, which has been hard hit by the shutdown of the General Motors plant, lost 3,100 jobs from February to February, for a total of 174,500. Alexandria had a 600-job decrease for a total of 62,300.

Statewide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in February was 6 percent. Louisiana was well below the national unemployment average of 7.7 percent and the Southern average of 7.3 percent. The state’s non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in February was 5.8 percent, the workforce commission reported.

Lafayette had a non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 4.2 percent in February, far below the state average, while Baton Rouge also beat state numbers, coming in at 5.5 percent, and New Orleans had a 5.9 percent unemployment rate, slightly above the state’s.