Lafayette posts strong job gains

Lafayette added 15,600 nonfarm jobs during the 12 months ending in November, an increase of 10 percent, figures from the Louisiana Workforce Commission show.

LSU economist Loren Scott said he continues to think the numbers, which have Lafayette at 170,800 jobs, are somewhat skewed, but nevertheless show the strength of the oil patch in the local economy.

He said the 10 percent increase “raises a red flag,” and said the numbers could be inflated by people who are working for Lafayette companies in other states, such as Colorado, the Dakotas and Texas.

The report showed Lafayette’s mining and logging sector up 2,500 jobs, education and health services up 2,400, and trade, transportation and utilities up 2,800 jobs.

Lafayette’s non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.1 percent in November, compared to a statewide unemployment rate of 4.6 percent.

Statewide, the nonfarm job count rose 2 percent, as the economy added 39,100 jobs during the 12-month period ending November with 1,973,800 jobs.

“Generally speaking, I think the governor and the others who watch these figures, they should be happy with the numbers,” Scott said. “If you look around the country, not too many states are showing a 2 percent growth rate.”

Scott pointed out the state managed to grow despite two significant drags in the manufacturing sector: the closure of the General Motors plant in Shreveport, which accounted for 800 jobs, and the ongoing layoffs at the Avondale shipyard. And that doesn’t include the decline in state government employment, which fell 3,500 jobs during the 12 months.

Still, Scott added, “all the other sectors are showing good, solid growth.”

Scott said next year will continue to see growth, despite between 1,500 and 2,000 more people laid off at Avondale, largely because expansions in the chemical industry will boost construction employment. He said Louisiana is close to having a labor force of two million, a milestone it will likely hit next year.

“You’re going to start seeing some very serious growth in those areas as these chemical plants and LNG export terminals gear up.”

Most of the state’s other metro areas added jobs, with Shreveport-Bossier City’s decline a slight one.

The New Orleans job count was basically flat in November, with the metro area losing 800 jobs during the previous 12 months to close at 531,000.

The Baton Rouge metro area added 3,000 jobs to finish November with 373,600, an increase of just under 1 percent.

Houma-Thibodaux added 2,400 jobs to finish November with 97,800 jobs, an increase of 3 percent.

Lake Charles gained 2,600 jobs to finish November with 90,900, an increase of 3 percent.

Shreveport-Bossier City lost 200 jobs to finish November with 177,900.

Alexandria added 1,400 jobs to finish November with 64,300, an increase of 2 percent.

Monroe added 1,800 jobs to finish November with 78,600 jobs, an increase of 2 percent.