La. gains 18,900 jobs in December

Louisiana’s job numbers were up 18,900 as unemployment decreased in December, compared with statistics from a year ago.

That total represented 25.5 percent of the 74,000 new jobs recorded for the nation last month.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday that Louisiana’s nonfarm employment totaled 1,973,300, compared with 1,954,400 a year earlier.

The state’s civilian labor force — those employed or actively looking for work — totaled 2,076,500 last month, about 400 more people than were in the labor force a year ago.

At the same time, the number of unemployed in Louisiana dropped to 96,900 in December, a decrease of 17,400 since December 2012.

The percentage of unemployed Louisiana residents dropped to 4.7 percent from the 5.5 percent recorded a year earlier.

Construction jobs edged up by 1,900 to a total of 133,700.

And mining and logging moved up nearly 2 percent to 54,500.

The biggest gain occurred among workers in the category of trade, transportation and utilities. An uptick of 10,100 for those employees increased their statewide total to 400,400.

Leisure and hospitality employees boosted their slice of Louisiana’s job market by 3.7 percent to 217,500.

The number of state residents holding government jobs shrank by 5,600 to a total of 347,200.

And those working in education and health services dipped to 284,900 — a decrease of 400 jobs.

Louisiana’s information jobs dropped by 1.6 percent to 24,600.

The number of people working in financial activities decreased by nearly 1 percent to 94,800.

All other fields experienced at least slight gains in Louisiana.

Manufacturing jobs were up 2.5 percent to 146,300.

There were 700 more jobs in professional and business services, bringing that total to 206,500.

The number of Louisiana residents employed in other services grew 1.8 percent to 62,900.

Louisiana was one of 30 states to record job increases last month, the BLS noted. The 74,000 jobs added by the nation’s employers in December was a three-year low and a significant decrease from the average of 214,000 in job gains recorded in the previous four months.

The nation’s unemployment rate fell to a five-year low of 6.7 percent, but much of that decline was due to thousands of people who quit searching for work. Federal officials count people as unemployed only as long as they continue to look for jobs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.