Louisiana Labor Force Grows While Unemployment Rate Drops in March

Louisiana’s overall civilian labor force and the number of employed individuals in the labor force set records in March, according to seasonally adjusted data released today by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The state’s unemployment rate also decreased for the third month in a row to 6.6 percent.

The state’s total civilian labor force, which includes the total number of people employed plus those looking for work, increased over the month to a record 2,205,427, a growth of 85,663 over the year. The number of people employed in the civilian labor force grew to a record 2,060,047, seasonally adjusted data from a BLS survey of 750 households show.

In March, 145,380 people were looking for work – 29,021 more than a year earlier, and 2,851 fewer than in February. The national unemployment rate remained at 5.5 percent. The 17-state Southern regional average rate in March was 5.3 percent.

“Overall, it looks like hiring in Louisiana is catching up with the rapid growth in our workforce,” said Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Curt Eysink. “That seems to be pushing our unemployment rate more into alignment with the fundamentals of our economy.”

A separate BLS survey of 7,000 employers across industries and the state shows private employers added 19,400 jobs over the year, making March the 54th consecutive month of over-the-year increases.

The survey also shows that even though nonfarm employment decreased slightly over the month, last month was the highest March on record with 1,984,000 nonfarm jobs. Total nonfarm employment increased by 13,900 over the year.

Industries with the biggest over-the-year job gains were education and health services, up 6,600; trade, transportation, and utilities, up 5,500; and leisure and hospitality, up 5,100.

Meanwhile, government employment in March was down 5,500 over the year. The decline was paced by a loss of 4,100 state jobs and 1,300 local government jobs, the seasonally adjusted data show. The only private sectors that lost jobs over the year were mining and logging, which was down 4,400; and professional and business services, which lost 2,700 jobs. Over the month, mining and logging lost 600 jobs and government employment went down by 1,000.

“Low oil prices probably drove the decrease in mining and logging and contributed to the losses in the professional and business services,” Eysink said.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission will release not seasonally adjusted data for the state and its nine Metropolitan Statistical Areas on Tuesday, April 28.

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 LWC will release not seasonally adjusted data for March for the state’s metropolitan areas and parishes on April 28. In 2015, the BLS will not provide seasonally adjusted data for the Lafayette, Shreveport, or Hammond metro areas because of the significant changes in their parish composition. BLS plans to review those metro areas in 2016 to consider resuming estimates of their seasonally adjusted data.

Job seekers can explore careers, apply for the highest rated jobs and connect with local training providers on the LWC’s free career tool, Louisiana Star Jobs, at www.laworks.net/Stars.

Employers looking for workers should visit Louisiana’s employment homepage at www.laworks.net and create a HiRE account, which will provide access to qualified job seekers.

Job seekers have a new LWC online tool to help with career planning. “My Life. My Way.” estimates living costs around the state and connects users to occupations that afford their desired way of life. Visit “My Life. My Way.” at laworks.net/mylife.

To view all available employment data, visit Louisiana’s employment homepage 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?survey=sm.

Connect with the Louisiana Workforce Commission socially at facebook.com/louisianaworks, twitter.com/louisianaworks andlinkedin.com/company/louisiana-workforce-commission.

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