BATON ROUGE – New seasonally-adjusted federal data for 2015 show Louisiana lost more jobs than earlier estimated, in large part weighed down by the impact of low oil prices.
In a separate report issued today on Louisiana unemployment for January 2016, federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data show the New Orleans area has more jobs than in any month since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, while employment in Baton Rouge set an all-time record. The state’s unemployment rate for the month was 5.9 percent.
The BLS adjustments for 2015 came as a result of the annual process known as benchmarking. During benchmarking, survey data used to prepare monthly reports on nonfarm employment, the labor force and unemployment rates are replaced with actual employment data contained in the quarterly wage and tax reports filed by Louisiana employers.
The new benchmarked data show the average total number of seasonally-adjusted annual nonfarm jobs in 2015 was 1,989,600, which is 2,900 more jobs than earlier estimates. However, the state lost 18,200 jobs from January 2015 through December 2015, which is 8,200 more than previously reported. The benchmarked data also show the private sector declined by an annual average of 700 more jobs than previously estimated in 2015. Private-sector employers lost 15,300 jobs from January 2015 through December 2015, 10,100 more jobs than the pre-benchmarked figures showed.
The benchmarked seasonally-adjusted civilian labor force (people employed as well as those who are unemployed but looking for a job) in Louisiana showed 26,064 fewer people in 2015 on an annual average than estimated earlier. The December total of 2,129,610 reflected 4,020 fewer people than the original figure, the new data show. The number of people in the labor force who were working in 2015 declined by an annual average of 20,962, while the December figure of 2,005,202 was 1,418 fewer people than previously shown.
The job losses continued into January 2016, when seasonally-adjusted data show Louisiana’s total nonfarm employment declined by 15,400 jobs over the year, the sixth consecutive month with a loss from the previous year. Private-sector employers lost 13,200 jobs from the January 2015 number, for a new total of 1,656,800. The mining and logging sector was responsible for most of the losses, showing 12,100 fewer jobs than in January 2015.
“The benchmarked data show that the decline in oil prices has had tremendous effects on the employment situation in our state,” said Ava Dejoie, executive director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission. “Job losses in oil-dependent MSAs and in secondary job sectors are a concern.”
Dejoie said it was encouraging to see growth in the January jobs report for the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission and its local partners have been working intensively with people who have lost jobs because of the oil slump to help them find new jobs and keep their skills in Louisiana.
Dejoie said job fairs conducted with partner organizations in the Lafayette area in 2016 have attracted about 4,500 job-seekers who met with dozens of companies. The next job fair is planned for March 30 at Abbeville High School in Vermilion Parish and more such fairs are planned in the months ahead.
Meanwhile, local Workforce Investment Boards are partnering with employers in the Baton Rouge and Lake Charles areas on customized training contracts to prepare Lafayette area workers for in-demand jobs in those nearby regions.
LWC also is working to connect unemployed workers with training through community and technical colleges and other providers.
Other benchmark findings
The decline in the civilian labor force through 2015 was driven by the decline in both the number of people with jobs and the number of those who are not working but are actively looking for a job. The actual number of people in the labor force who were working fell by 59,722 people over the course of 2015. The number of people who were not working declined by 23,773 people, according to the benchmarked data.
Despite the losses incurred during the year, the 2015 seasonally-adjusted total nonfarm employment annual average was a record high. The annual average is 4,900 higher than the previous high of 1,984,700 from 2014.
The benchmarked 2015 seasonally adjusted annual average number of jobs in education and health services was 5,700 higher than the 2014 average. This is the ninth consecutive year of annual increases and the sector gained jobs over the year every month beginning with October 2006.
The benchmarked 2015 seasonally-adjusted annual average for the mining and logging sector showed 1,300 more jobs than the pre-benchmarked figure. However, the 2015 average was down 7,400 jobs from the 2014 average and the sector lost 11,200 jobs during 2015.
January 2016 unemployment rate nudges up from December, but is down from a year ago
Seasonally adjusted BLS data for January, released today, shows Louisiana’s unemployment rate rose slightly to 5.9 percent from 5.8 percent in December. The unemployment rate remained much lower than the January 2015 rate of 6.9 percent.
The state’s nonfarm workforce rose by 2,800 during the month to 1,982,800. While this number was down 15,400 jobs from January 2015, it represented the first over-the-month gain since May 2015.
Total private-sector employment of 1,656,800 was up 2,100 jobs from December but down 13,200 over the year. January was the fifth consecutive month of losses compared with the same month a year earlier.
For the month, the mining and logging sector, which include oil and gas, posted a loss of 900 jobs, bringing total sector losses to 12,100 jobs over the year. Other oil-linked sectors also showed declines in January, including:
• Manufacturing, which lost 700 jobs for the month and was down 6,800 jobs over the year.
• Financial activities, including businesses that lease oilfield equipment, which lost 800 jobs for the month and was down 3,700 over the year.
• Professional and business services, including companies that provide staff for oil-related businesses, which lost 3,100 jobs in January and is down 5,900 jobs over the year.
Another sector that includes some oil-related companies – trade, transportation and utilities – gained 2,700 jobs in January but was down 2,500 over the year.
Despite the oil downturn, some sectors continued to show growth around the state. Among them:
• Construction was up 3,500 jobs in January and 7,700 over the year.
• Education and health services continued to grow with 2,000 jobs added in January and 7,200 over the year.
• Government employment added 700 jobs for the month but is down 2,200 over the year. All of January’s gains came at the local level; the state added no jobs and the federal government cut 600 during the month.
Among Louisiana’s nine metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), seasonally-adjusted data for January showed:
• Alexandria gained 600 jobs for the month and 600 over the year.
• Baton Rouge added 3,300 jobs in January and 8,400 over the year.
• Houma added 200 jobs for the month and is down 7,000 over the year.
• Lake Charles gained 100 jobs for January and is up 2,300 over the year as a building boom continues.
• Monroe gained 400 jobs for the month and 800 jobs over the year.
• New Orleans gained 4,300 jobs in January and is up 3,000 jobs over the year.
The BLS does not report seasonally-adjusted data for Hammond, Lafayette and Shreveport because of changes in those areas’ demographics. Not-seasonally-adjusted data for January showed:
• Hammond lost 1,100 jobs for the month and 300 over the year.
• Lafayette, where low oil prices have hit hard, lost 4,100 jobs over the month and 11,800 over the year.
• Shreveport, an area where oilfield fracking operations have declined because of low prices, lost 2,400 jobs for January and has lost 2,400 over the year.
Seasonally-adjusted data are useful for comparisons among states and the nation. Not-seasonally-adjusted data are useful for comparing trends in parishes and metropolitan statistical areas, and for comparing them to the state.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission will report monthly state, parish and MSA employment data for February on March 28.
To view all available employment data, visit Louisiana’s employment homage at http://www.laworks.net and select Labor Market Information from the top-right menu. Then, select LOIS (Louisiana Occupational Information System) and select Employment and Wage Data listed under Historical Data Analysis. To view the BLS Local Area Unemployment Statistics for the state, visit http://data.bls.gov/pdq/querytool.jsp?survey=la. For BLS nonfarm employment data, click here: http://data.bls.gov/pdq/querytool.jsp.
Resources for employers and job seekers
Job-seekers can explore careers, apply for top-rated jobs and connect with local training providers using Louisiana Star Jobs, the LWC’s free career tool, at www.laworks.net/Stars. Employers looking for workers should visit Louisiana’s employment homepage at www.laworks.net. Click on HiRE (Helping Individuals Reach Employment) and create an account allowing access to qualified job seekers.
Job-seekers can also use My Life. My Way to estimate living costs around Louisiana and to connect with occupations that afford their desired lifestyle. Visit My Life. My Way. at www.laworks.net/MyLife.
About the Louisiana Workforce Commission
The Louisiana Workforce Commission is an agency of state government that administers programs designed to enhance workforce growth and provide family-sustaining jobs for Louisiana residents. The commission monitors employment, administers unemployment compensation and tax funds, provides training resources for employers and employees and oversees worker compensation benefits. The agency also gathers and supplies information on the labor market and occupational sectors in Louisiana.
Connect with the Louisiana Workforce Commission on social media at www.Facebook.com/LouisianaWorks, http://www.Twitter.com/LouisianaWorks and www.LinkedIn.com/company/Louisiana-Workforce-Commission.
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