BR area gains 12,700 jobs over 12 months

The Baton Rouge metropolitan area gained more nonfarm jobs — 12,700 — in the 12 months that ended June 30 than any of Louisiana’s other seven metro areas.

Those numbers, reported by the Louisiana Workforce Commission on Friday, were not yet seasonally adjusted, but showed the Baton Rouge area increased its employment by 3.3 percent in the year since June 2013. That expanded the nine-parish area’s total nonfarm employment to 396,000.

“This preliminary data appears to be consistent with overall reports of the current excellent economic conditions — not just in the Baton Rouge area, but across all of south Louisiana,” said Michael DiResto, of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.

“These numbers are also consistent with the current low unemployment rate,” said DiResto, BRAC’s senior vice president for economic competitiveness.

Louisiana’s preliminary, not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.7 percent last month.

Employment in the New Orleans metro area was up 1.5 percent in June, a boost that expanded the area’s job total to 552,000.

“Southeastern Louisiana appears to be entering a phase of growth unseen for decades,” said Michael Hecht, president and chief executive officer for Greater New Orleans Inc.

Hecht said the region’s economy is “underpinned by both oil and natural gas, supported by trade and advanced manufacturing, and augmented further by technology and other new industries, like water management.”

Added Hecht: “Greater New Orleans has an exceptional opportunity for diversified job creation in the coming years. It is now our responsibility to make investments in training and infrastructure to maximize this economic opportunity.”

Nonfarm employment in the Lafayette area increased 1.8 percent over the 12 months, and that uptick hiked the area’s job total to 163,100 by the end of June.

Jason El Koubi, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, said Friday’s numbers demonstrate that region’s continued advancements.

“These latest job growth figures reflect our strong economic momentum in the Lafayette area,” El Koubi said. “The overall numbers are even more impressive when you consider that these data show our region’s private sector grew by 3,400 jobs over the past year, with government employment declining by about 500 jobs.”

Added El Koubi: “Almost every sector of our economy saw economic growth, with solid increases in the oil and gas, manufacturing, health care and hospitality sectors.”

Statewide, in seasonally adjusted figures, Louisiana’s nonfarm employment increased by nearly 1 percent over the past year, totaling 1.97 million on June 30.

“Louisiana is doing well, and we have a very strong growth forecast for years to come,” said Curt Eysink, LWC executive director.

Nationwide, nonfarm employment reached nearly 138.8 million by June 30, a one-year hike of nearly 1.8 percent.

While the Baton Rouge area led Louisiana’s metro areas in the number of new jobs, the smaller Lake Charles metro area led the state in its rate of growth — 4.1 percent — and finished at 95,900.

For the one-year period, nonfarm jobs increased in the Houma area by 2.1 percent, expanding that total to 101,300.

The Monroe metro area increased its jobs by 1.5 percent, finishing at 79,000.

Shreveport-area nonfarm jobs totaled 173,100, an increase of less than 0.5 percent.

Only the Alexandria metro area lost jobs, suffering a one-year decrease of nearly 0.5 percent, dropping its nonfarm total to 62,500.

Unemployment rates in all eight metro areas were down year-over-year: Alexandria, to 6.1 from 7.7 percent; Baton Rouge, 5.4 percent from 7.3 percent; Houma-Thibodaux, 3.9 percent from 5.2 percent; Lafayette, 4.4 percent from 5.7 percent; Lake Charles, 5 percent from 7.4 percent; Monroe, 6.1 percent from 7.9 percent; New Orleans, 5.7 percent from 7.4 percent; and Shreveport-Bossier, 6.1 percent from 7.9 percent. The statewide rate of 5.7 percent was down from 7.4 percent.

The national rate dipped to 6.3 percent from 7.8 percent for the 12-month period.