South La. metro-area jobs continue to rise

The number of nonfarm jobs in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette and statewide continued to increase in July, according to figures released Thursday by the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

Despite the loss of 5,200 government jobs, Louisiana gained a total of 28,000 jobs, or a 1.5 percent increase over the 12-month period that ended in July. The figures are not seasonally adjusted. The increase put the statewide jobs total at 1.94 million, according to estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In June, the state added 25,800 jobs, for 1.3 percent growth year-over-year.

The unemployment picture varied statewide. While the state, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lake Charles and Monroe all saw month-to-month drops in the unemployment rate, unemployment rose in Lafayette, Houma-Thibodaux and Shreveport and held steady in Alexandria.

“Improvements in the number of people employed and unemployed are what drew down our unemployment rate,” said Curt Eysink, executive director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission. “I’m encouraged that our labor force numbers improved not only over the month, which is what we’d expect for this time of year, but they improved over the year as well.”

Louisiana’s civilian labor force, which includes people who are working and also unemployed people who are looking for jobs, increased by 11,493 for the year, putting the labor force at just under 2.1 million.

Taking a look at the individual metro areas:

BATON ROUGE: The number of nonfarm jobs in metro Baton Rouge increased by 6,400 during the 12-month period. That 1.7 percent gain put the Capital Region at 374,100 jobs.

The city saw job gains in a number of sectors, most notably construction, which went to 42,600 jobs in July from 38,900 a year earlier. The number of chemical and petrochemical projects that have been announced locally the past year or so has led to the increase in construction jobs.

The number of information jobs in the Capital Region also increased significantly in July, going from 4,800 to 5,500 over the year. IT activity has been boosted by Ameritas Technology’s decision to open a software development office downtown and the initial hiring for IBM’s software development center.

NEW ORLEANS: The metro area added 4,400 jobs in the July report, bumping the Crescent City up to 528,300. That was an increase of 0.8 percent from a year ago.

The city saw gains in the number of educational services jobs, going to 19,600 from 18,100, while private service-providing jobs went from 380,500 to 385,300 in July.

LAFAYETTE: Lafayette added 4,100 jobs, a gain of nearly 2.7 percent, to come in at 158,600 for the 12-month period. An increase in private service-providing jobs, which were up 2,700 for the 12-month period to 106,000, and a jump in leisure and hospitality jobs from 16,100 to 17,700, accounted for the difference.

OTHER METRO AREAS: Lake Charles added 2,900 jobs in the 12-month period ending in July to come in at 93,000. Houma-Thibodaux added 2,400 jobs to reach 97,200. Alexandria added 200 jobs for total employment to 62,700.

Shreveport-Bossier, which has been hard hit by the shutdown of the General Motors plant, layoffs at Libbey Glass and the relocation of A-10 tank-killing planes from Barksdale Air Force Base, lost 2,300 jobs from July 2012 to last month, for total employment of 175,300. Monroe lost 100 jobs to come in at 76,300.

Statewide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in July was 7.0 percent, unchanged from June. Louisiana was still below the national unemployment average of 7.4 percent.

The state’s nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rate in July was 7.1 percent, the workforce commission reported. That’s down from 7.9 percent in June.

Baton Rouge’s unemployment rate dropped from 7.3 percent in June to 7.0 percent in July. New Orleans saw a smaller drop, falling from 7.3 percent in June to 7.2 percent in July.

Lafayette saw its unemployment rate rise to 5.4 percent in July from 5.2 percent the month before, but remained well below the state average.

The same applied to Houma-Thibodaux, which went to 5.0 percent from 4.9 percent.

Both Lafayette and Houma-Thibodaux have experienced a boom from increased activity in the offshore oil drilling industry.