Jobless rate declines in St. Mary, neighbors
Unemployment in St. Mary Parish declined slightly in February, registering 9 percent after January’s 9.2 percent rate.
Some 20,329 were employed in St. Mary in February, while 2,019 were jobless. In January, there were 20,148 employed and 2,053 jobless.
Unemployment stood at 10 percent in February 2011.
Neighboring Assumption Parish’s jobless rate fell a full percentage point to 10.4 percent in February. There were 8,988 employed in February, compared to 1,047 unemployed; while in January, there were 8,869 employed and 1,136 unemployed. The February 2011 rate was 11.8 percent.
Joblessness in St. Martin Parish was 6.2 percent in February, down from 6.7 percent in January. No separate calculation is made for Lower St. Martin.
Iberia Parish recorded 6.6 percent unemployment.
Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes, which make up the Houma-Thibodaux-Bayou Cane Metropolitan Statistical Area, registered the lowest unemployment rates in the state once again, with a 4.9 percent rate in Lafourche and a 5 percent rate in Terrebonne. The overall MSA rate is 5 percent.
The Lafayette MSA, which includes St. Martin, has a jobless rate of 5.2 percent overall. Lafayette Parish’s rate is 4.9 percent.
Among parishes similar in size to St. Mary, jobless rates include St. Charles, 6.1 percent; St. John the Baptist, 8.2; Acadia, 6.1; Lincoln, 8.2; Vermilion, 6.6; Vernon, 6.9; and Webster, 7.6.
Double-digit unemployment persists in East Carroll, West Carroll, Madison, Richland, Franklin, Concordia, Tensas, Iberville, Morehouse and St. James.
Annual job growth flattened a bit in February in Louisiana as the number of unemployed workers rose, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday.
Without seasonal adjustments, there were 46,700 more non-farm jobs in February 2012 than in the previous February and 16,000 more than in January 2012, the BLS report said. The January-to-January comparison showed a growth of 45,900 jobs.
At the same time, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Louisiana rose to 7 percent in February from 6.9 percent in January. The rate in February was 7.5 percent. The national jobless rate for February was 8.3 percent, unchanged from January.
The number of those officially listed as unemployed rose to 144,400 in February, an increase from 141,900. In February 2011, there were 158,200 Louisiana residents listed as unemployed. The civilian work force — those either working or actively seeking jobs and a factor in computing the jobless rate — jumped last month by 2,500 from January. The work force was down 10,900 from February 2011.
Retired Louisiana State University economist Loren Scott, who tracks the state’s employment picture, said that, at first glance, the 2.5 percent growth rate over 12 months is impressive. Scott said there have been only six years since 1980 when the rate was as good or better.
At the same time, though, Scott said the national economy is struggling through a historically slow recovery. He said that although other indicators — such as sales tax collections — indicate Louisiana is doing better than the national norm, he had suspicions about the accuracy of the figures.
The reason: Last March the BLS took over the gathering and reporting of job figures from the state labor agency. The state has less authority now to challenge questionable figures.
“These numbers are good, but it’s very suspicious when they suggest we are growing as much as we did in the best six years of the last 33 years,” Scott said.
The BLS said last month included a 7,000-job gain in the goods-producing sector and a gain of 39,700 in the service-providing sector as compared with February 2011.
The petroleum sector has gained 3,900 jobs over the past 12 months, manufacturing is up by 2,500 jobs and construction has added 600 jobs.
In the service-providing sector, private education and health care added 16,100 jobs over the year, mirroring a strong national growth trend in that area. Trade, transportation and utilities added 9,600 jobs. Leisure and hospitality saw a gain of 5,500 jobs. Professional and business services — a wide sector that includes attorneys, accountants, architects and computer programmers — rose by 5,300 jobs.
The financial sector gained 2,700 jobs over 12 months.
Government employment at all levels was up by 2,000 last month from February 2011, the BLS said. The federal government shed 700 jobs, the state lost 2,100 jobs and local governments added 4,800 jobs.
In the state’s metropolitan areas, on a non-seasonally adjusted basis:
—Alexandria showed no change from January, but a loss of 1,700 non-farm jobs from February 2011.
—Baton Rouge added 3,700 jobs from January, giving the region a February-to-February gain of 2,500 jobs.
—Houma-Thibodaux gained 800 jobs from January to show a 12-month increase of 5,400 jobs.
—Lafayette gained 3,400 jobs from January to wind up with a 12,000-job gain from February 2011.
—Lake Charles showed 100 more jobs from January, but was down 100 jobs over the past 12 months.
—Monroe gained 300 jobs from January for a 12-month increase of 1,000.
—New Orleans added 4,500 jobs last month for a February-to-February increase of 8,800.
—Shreveport-Bossier City added 700 jobs from January for a 12-month gain of 1,100.