La. sets job record at 1,958,600

Louisiana’s total nonfarm employment in August hit a seasonally adjusted all-time high after 38,900 jobs were added in the past year — the second method for calculating job numbers to hit a record this year.

According to figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday, total public and private sector seasonally adjusted employment in the state reached 1,958,600 in August. That tops the previous record of 1,950,900, set pre-Hurricane Katrina in July 2005.

“These numbers are great news for Louisiana and continue to reflect the growth we hear about from employers across industries and in many parts of the state,” said Curt Eysink, executive director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

The state also set a record for private sector jobs, reaching a total of 1,613,900. That beat the record set in May. The number of private sector jobs in the state increased by 2.8 percent, or 44,000, over August 2012. The number of private sector jobs were slightly offset by the 5,100 federal, state and local government jobs that were lost over the year.

The sectors that added the most jobs over the year were trade, transportation and utilities, which were up 12,100; leisure and hospitality, which increased by 11,000; and construction, which had a 10,600-jobs increase.

August was the 36th consecutive month that the state posted year-over-year job gains. The BLS measures total nonfarm employment and the number of private sector jobs through a survey of 6,000 employers across Louisiana.

Economist Loren Scott said the state has been topping pre-Katrina levels of employment on a nonseasonally adjusted basis since January. Louisiana is one of only 14 states to have more people currently working than in January 2008, when the national recession started, Scott said. “Largely, the construction side is responsible for a great majority of the growth in employment,” he said.

Large-scale industrial construction projects, being driven by cheap natural gas prices, are powering the job numbers.

Despite the increase in jobs, Louisiana’s unemployment rate was 7 percent for the third month in a row. That’s up from the 6.4 percent statewide unemployment rate in August 2012.

The number of unemployed Louisiana residents was 146,003 in August, an increase of 13,489 over the year.

Louisiana’s civilian labor force, which includes people who are working or looking for work, was nearly 2.09 million in August, up 4,756 for the year.

The BLS calculates unemployment rates and the civilian labor force through a second survey of 750 homes.

The national unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent in August from 7.4 percent in July. That was well below the 8.1 percent national unemployment rate in August 2012. Nevada retained the highest state unemployment rate at 9.5 percent, while North Dakota again had the lowest rate at 3 percent.

The state workforce commission also released its weekly unemployment claims totals Friday. For the week ending Sept. 14, there were 2,633 new unemployment claims. That’s up from the 2,190 new claims filed during the week ending Sept. 7, which was shortened by Labor Day.

For the week ending Sept. 15, 2012, there were 4,873 initial claims. Initial claims remained high then in the wake of Hurricane Isaac, which hit south Louisiana in late August 2012.

Continuing unemployment claims were down for the week ending Sept. 14 to 24,057 from the previous week’s total of 24,122. For the same week a year ago, there were 33,459 continued claims.