Parish unemployment rises; state sees growth

By: Staff and Wire Reports
Unemployment remains high in St. Mary Parish, which bears the highest unemployment level among Louisiana’s coastal parishes.

Figures from the Louisiana Workforce Commission show St. Mary with 20,170 employed and 2,280 unemployed in May, a 10.2 percent jobless rate. That is a rise from April, when the jobless rate dipped into the single digits at 9.5 percent; then, 20,228 were employed and only 2,133 were unemployed.

In May 2010, the unemployment rate was 9.1 per-cent, with 20,890 employed and 2,083 unemployed.

Neighboring Assumption Parish remained in double-digit territory in May with a 12.2 percent rate. Some 9,030 were employed and 1,255 were unemployed in May. The jobless rate was 11.3 percent in Assumption in April and 10.3 percent in May 2010.

Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, which make up the Houma-Thibodaux-Bayou Cane Metropolitan Statisti-cal Area, again held the lowest jobless rates in the state in May, at 5.9 percent and 6 percent respectively, but the gap with other parishes has narrowed some-what. Lafayette Parish posted a 6.2 percent rate, and Bossier Parish recorded 6.3 percent.

Also among St. Mary’s neighbors, St. Martin Parish as a whole reported 7.4 per-cent unemployment and Iberia Parish reported 8 percent. No separate calculation is made for lower St. Martin.

Among similarly sized parishes to St. Mary, jobless rates included: St. Charles, 7.6 percent; St. John the Baptist, 10.3; Acadia, 7.1; Lincoln, 9.4; Vermilion, 7.3; Vernon, 7.9; and Webster, 8.4.

The highest unemployment rate in the state was in West Carroll Parish, where joblessness stood at 17 per-cent; East Carroll was close behind at 16.9 percent. Other double-digit jobless rates were recorded in Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, Franklin, Iberville, Madison, Morehouse, Richland, St. Helena, St. James, Tensas, Washington and West Feliciana parishes.

Despite some headwinds hitting the national economy, Louisiana’s job growth picked up slightly in May.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Wednesday that the state recorded 15,000 non-farm jobs more last month than in May 2010, including a jump of 10,200 from April. The numbers are not adjusted for seasonal factors.

The April-to-April comparison showed a gain of 14,500 jobs, while the March-to-March gain was 9,200 jobs.

In a continuation of a recent trend, the private sector provided all of the growth, adding 31,800 jobs over 12 months. Government employment at all levels dropped 16,800 jobs.

Among the metropolitan areas, New Orleans had the largest number of new jobs over the year, with 4,900, followed by Shreveport-Bossier City with 4,800. The 12-month laggards included Baton Rouge, Monroe and Lafayette.

Workforce Commission executive director Curt Eysink said Louisiana — on a non-seasonally adjusted basis — has added jobs in eight out of the past 10 months. He blamed a slight increase in the jobless rate on a typical seasonal pattern occurring when school personnel and students enter the work force.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Louisiana’s unemployment rate for May was 8.2 percent, up from 8.1 percent in April.

Year-to-year increases were recorded in all sectors of goods-producing employ-ment: 800 additional jobs in mining, most of which consists of the petroleum industry; 1,250 additional construction jobs and a boost of 4,200 manufacturing jobs.

In the service-providing sector, private education and health services gained the most jobs over the past 12 months, with 9,300, followed by hospitality with 8,200 and trade, transportation and utilities with 4,900.

Economist Loren Scott, who follows Louisiana’s employment trends, said “it’s hard not to be happy with these numbers. There’s virtually no sector, other than government, that isn’t growing.”

The gain in manufacturing came despite a 1,000-job drop in shipbuilding payrolls. Scott said that is largely attributable to the phasing-out of the Huntington-Ingalls shipyard at Avondale, which is slated for closure in 2013. Several other major ship-builders in Louisiana have been hiring new workers, he said.

Scott noted that the Louisiana chemical industry has added at least 700 jobs over the past 12 months, which he said is the combination of low U.S. natural gas prices and a weak dollar that encourages exports.

Of the government jobs lost over the past 12 months, 8,000 were in the federal sector where temporary Census workers have been laid off, Scott said. State government is down by 2,500 jobs over the year, while local governments have cut 6,300.

Among the state’s metropolitan areas:

—New Orleans job overall gain from May 2010 to May 2011 consisted of 5,400 more service-providing jobs and a reduction of 500 workers in goods-producing sectors.

—Baton Rouge dropped 900 jobs in the May-to-May comparison. Goods-producing jobs increased by 400, but the service-providing sector shed 1,300.

—Houma-Thibodaux gained 2,400 jobs over the year, including 700 goods-producing jobs and 1,400 in the service-oriented sector.

—Lafayette wound up with a yearly loss of 100 jobs because of a 400-job gain in the goods-producing sector and a 500-job loss in the service-providing sector.

—Lake Charles gained 1,900 jobs from May 2010 to May 2011. The service-providing sector increased by 2,100 jobs, while the goods-producing sector lost 200.

—Shreveport-Bossier City’s overall gain over 12 months came from 2,600 additional goods-producing jobs and 2,200 more jobs in the service-providing sector.

—Alexandria gained 1,400 jobs over 12 months, including 300 in the goods-producing sector and 1,100 in the service-providing sector.

—Monroe shed 900 jobs over 12 months. Although the goods-producing sector increased by 200 jobs, the service-providing sector lost 500.

St. Mary Now & Franklin Banner-Tribune

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