Employment projections show boost

Edna Stewart
March 15, 2011
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Edna Stewart
March 15, 2011
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March 17, 2011

Employment expectations for Louisiana and the Tri-parish region offer improvement for individuals seeking work and companies looking to increase personnel.

According to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, the second quarter of 2011 shows a 5 percent boost in the number of employers that expect to increase their workforce during the spring months. A 22 percent expectation level is the same as was reported for the first quarter of this year.

At the same time, companies that anticipate cutting staff were listed at 7 percent, which was the same as one year earlier and up from the 4 percent of employers that expected to reduce employees in January.

While 73 percent of Louisiana employers responding to the survey said they would maintain their current staffing levels during this time in 2010, this year second quarter projections hold that number at 64 percent.

Overall the net employment outlook for the second quarter of 2011 was posted at 15 percent, which is up from the 10 percent listing one year earlier. It is also down 3 percent from 2011 first quarter projections.

On paper, employment figures show a modest gain, yet Manpower spokeswoman Jill Wilson called the survey results an indication that employers expect to hire “at a strong pace” during the next three months.

“Employers are slightly less confident about hiring plans for the second quarter of 2011compared to the quarter one when the net employment outlook was 18 percent,” Wilson said. “[But] employers foresee stronger staffing plans compared with one year ago, when the net employment outlook was 10 percent.”

Kim Cancienne is manager of the Manpower office in Houma. She said that although there has not been a significant amount of movement during the first quarter, and she was unable to provide figures on a parish level, overall improvement is anticipated. “Our clients tell us they are about to pick up,” Cancienne said.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission issued a report Thursday that stated 9,500 seasonally adjusted non-farm jobs had been added in the state employment level in January.

According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of unemployed Louisianans grew by 1,898 in January compared to December 2010. Unemployment numbers for the state increased by 24,052 between January 2010 and January of this year. That number is based on those individuals filing unemployment claims and does not take into consideration those that might have given up looking for work or did not file for federal assistance.

At the same time, the LWC reported that the civilian workforce in the Houma-Thibodaux area grew by 2,965 during the past year. Lafourche Parish saw a boost in employment by 1,400 workers while 1,565 secured jobs in Terrebonne Parish between January 2010 and January 2011.

In St. Mary Parish, unemployment levels increased by 321 workers for the year ended in January.

An informal and unscientific survey of regional employers offered mixed levels of anticipation regarding job growth for the second quarter.

Myra LeCompte, store manager for Ashley Furniture in Houma, said she is taking applications for workers in the local distribution center.

“We’re looking for drivers, stockers, receiving, clerks, all warehouse [personnel],” LeCompte said. “I have seen quite a bit of movement [regarding hires]. It seems that everything is starting to turn around.”

Job losses along the Louisiana coast were expected to mount following a drilling ban on the heels of the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil release last year. But according to the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association employment numbers were not hit as hard as anticipated.

A LOGA report released in February stated that both large and small companies have done what they can to retain employees even with a slowdown in oil production and offshore support activity. “Layoffs on rigs since last spring are far less than initially expected,” the report said.

“This year’s job numbers for January are in line with the job pattern seen in previous Januarys,” said LWC Executive Director Curt Eysnik in a printed statement. “Our continued gain in private sector jobs over last year shows we are continuing to move in the right direction.”

According the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, Louisiana has one of the stronger job markets in the nation.