Louisiana adds 59,600 jobs over year

Information session set for today on business recovery grant
January 31, 2007
Nathan Robinson
February 2, 2007
Information session set for today on business recovery grant
January 31, 2007
Nathan Robinson
February 2, 2007

Louisiana added 59,600 non-farm jobs in 2006 as the state continued trying to recover from the twin hits of hurricanes Katrina and Rita the previous year, the state labor department reported Thursday.

Despite the gain, the state still had 137,100 fewer non-farm jobs last month than it had at the end of 2004 n the last full year before the storms. And an economist says that the New Orleans region, the hardest-hit by the storms, likely won’t be exploding with job growth over the next two years.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, goods-producing jobs jumped by 16,000 over 2006, while the service-providing sector added another 43,000.

From November to December, non-farm employment rose by 4,100, including 900 in the goods-producing sector that includes petroleum, manufacturing and construction, and 3,200 in the service sector.

The two labor markets hit hardest by the storms n New Orleans and Lake Charles n came out with sharply different pictures over the year. Lake Charles, which recovered faster from Rita, had a net loss of 500 non-farm jobs from over the year. The New Orleans region, which was devastated by Katrina, saw an increase of 38,600 over the year n 32,000 of those in the service-providing sector.

Loren Scott, an economist with Louisiana State University who follows the state’s employment picture, said that, so far, New Orleans has had steady n but not skyrocketing n job growth since initially losing 200,000 jobs from Katrina.

“The pace of the recovery is not picking up. It’s not getting faster and faster. It’s either the same amount or slower every month.” Scott said.

According to a two-year forecast by a group of state university economists, the New Orleans region stands to gain about 34,000 non-farm jobs in 2007, followed by 24,000 in 2008. The main problem standing in the way of faster growth is a lack of housing, Scott said.

On the other hand, lacking the flooding that hit the New Orleans region, Lake Charles has recovered to a normal track much quicker, Scott said.

“The private (insurance) money came in very quickly and the construction led them out of the valley,” Scott said.

The state’s unemployment rate, on a seasonally adjusted basis, was 4.3 percent in December, compared with 4.5 percent in November and 6.4 percent in December 2005. The national jobless rate for December was 4.5 percent. However, over the year, the civilian labor force n a key factor in computing the rate n dropped in Louisiana by 33,737 on a seasonally adjusted basis, the labor department said.

In December, there were 9,653 new and renewed claims for unemployment compensation in Louisiana, compared with 10,051 in November and 16,371 in December 2005. Last month, 1,723 recipients exhausted their benefits, compared with 1,523 in November and 2,809 in December 2005.

Among the state’s metropolitan areas:

• New Orleans, which sustained the major share of the two-year job losses, gained 6,600 in the goods-producing sector and 32,000 in the service-providing sector.

• Baton Rouge gained 10,500 non-farm jobs in 2006, including 2,200 in the goods-producing sector and 8,300 in the service-providing sector.

• Alexandria had a net gain of 800 jobs in 2006, all coming from the service-providing sector.

• Houma-Thibodaux showed 4,200 more non-farm jobs in 2006, including 2,200 in the goods-producing sector and 2,000 in the service-providing sector.

• Lafayette added 2,000 non-farm jobs in 2006 n 1,800 in the goods-producing sector and 200 in the service-providing sector.

• Lake Charles lost 1,300 goods-producing jobs during 2006 and gained 800 service-providing jobs.

• Monroe was almost static in 2006, gaining 200 service-providing jobs and losing 100 goods-producing jobs.

• Shreveport-Bossier City added 2,500 non-farm jobs, including 600 in the goods-producing sector and 1,900 in the service-providing sector.