BATON ROUGE – Louisiana’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment reached the highest mark in the state’s history in March at 1,952,100, the Louisiana Workforce Commission reported today.
A survey of employers by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates Louisiana’s nonfarm employment increased in March by 44,000 jobs from a year ago, and increased by 2,100 jobs from the previous month. According to the BLS data, Louisiana has now experienced 22 straight months of nonfarm jobs gains with the March total surpassing the total before Hurricane Katrina, the previous high point.
The BLS report showed eight of 10 private sectors with employment gains yielding an over-the-year increase of 41,000 private sector jobs. Leading the way was education and health services, which added 13,600 jobs since March of last year, for a total of 299,900. Other private sectors and their employment and job gains were:
Trade, transportation, and utilities: 380,100 jobs, up 6,800;
Professional and business services: 201,000 jobs, up 5,700;
Leisure and hospitality: 203,200 jobs, up 5,300;
Mining and logging: 57,400 jobs, up 5,100;
Manufacturing: 142,200 jobs, up 3,500;
Financial activities: 97,100 jobs, up 2,800;
Other services: 63,900 jobs, up 300.
Fueled largely by increases in local government jobs, the government sector overall added 3,000 jobs to 361,600. Meanwhile, two private sectors showed declines: construction dropped by 1,500 jobs to 121,200, and information was down 600 jobs to 24,500.
The BLS nonfarm estimates are produced using methods implemented last year that allow less state input into results than before. The use of this methodology results in greater variability from one month to the next, according to BLS.
“Louisiana reached an historic milestone in March because our private sector employment is strong and growing,” said Curt Eysink, LWC executive director. “Even though the BLS data can be variable, the results track what we hear from employers: Business continues to pick up.”
Louisiana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.1 percent in March, an increase of 0.1 percent from February, but lower than the year-ago rate of 7.5 percent. The number of unemployed people rose by 2,752 in March, to 147,077. Meanwhile, the civilian labor force — the number of people working or looking for work — grew by 4,061, to 2,064,571 in March.
The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 22nd lowest in the nation and the sixth lowest in the South Region. The rate for the South Region was 7.8 percent. The national unemployment rate for March 2012 decreased over the month to 8.2 percent.
Louisiana’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate, used to compare the state and metropolitan areas, dropped from 7.1 percent in February to 7.0 percent in March. The national unadjusted rate dropped to 8.4 percent.
The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate for five metropolitan statistical areas in Louisiana improved, one had no change, and two MSAs had small increases over the month; and all but one — Shreveport — also posted over-the-year improvements. The March unemployment rates for the eight metropolitan statistical areas are:
Alexandria: 7.0 percent, down 0.2 percent over the month and 0.1 percent over the year.
Baton Rouge: 7.0 percent, down 0.1 percent over the month and 0.3 percent over the year.
Houma: 4.9 percent, down 0.1 percent over the month and down 0.7 percent over the year.
Lafayette: 5.0 percent, down 0.2 percent over the month and down 0.8 percent over the year.
Lake Charles: 6.7 percent, up 0.2 percent over the month and down 0.1 percent over the year.
Monroe: 7.6 percent, down 0.1 percent over the month and down 0.1 percent over the year.
New Orleans: 7.0 percent, unchanged over the month and down 0.1 percent over the year.
Shreveport: 6.8 percent, up 0.1 percent over the month and up 0.2 percent over the year.
BLS data shows that regionally, the Lafayette MSA had the largest job growth among metro areas with an increase of 14,100 seasonally unadjusted nonfarm jobs over the past 12 months. This was followed by over-the-year increases in New Orleans (7,100 jobs), Houma (5,700 jobs), Monroe (1,100 jobs), Baton Rouge (1,000 jobs), and Shreveport (300 jobs). Two metro areas experienced declines in March—Alexandria saw a decline of 1,400 jobs, while Lake Charles lost 900 jobs compared to a year ago.
Statewide, not seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment for March 2012 was up 10,500 jobs over the month and 47,300 jobs over the year. That includes private employment growth of 45,400 over the year.
For more detailed information on March 2012 employment data for Louisiana, visit our website at www.laworks.net and select Labor Market Information. Then select Monthly Employment Bulletin – Workforce At A Glance or Monthly Employment Statistics Press Release for the latest monthly nonfarm and labor force data.
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