February Lifts Louisiana Labor Market As Payrolls Rise

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana's unemployment rate fell and payrolls rose in February, signaling improvements in the state's labor market.

         Payrolls, which are many economists' top labor market indicator, rose by 7,000 to 1.98 million. Payrolls also moved above year-ago levels for the first time in 18 months.

         In a separate survey, Louisiana's jobless rate fell to 5.8 percent from 5.9 percent in January. That's also below February 2016's rate of 6.2 percent. An increase in people reporting jobs grew faster than people entering the workforce, dropping the number of unemployed Louisianans to 122,000.

         Louisiana's jobless rate is fourth-highest among states, with New Mexico worst at 6.8 percent. The nationwide rate fell to 4.7 percent in February from January's 4.8 percent.

         The U.S. Labor Department released figures Friday, adjusted to cancel out seasonal changes.


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