La. Unemployment Rate Hits Record Low but Labor Force Participation Lags

Female Steel Factory Worker At Work
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BATON ROUGE (The Center Square) — Louisiana’s unemployment rate hit a record low for the third consecutive month in August with a seasonally adjusted rate of 3.5%, though the figure is complicated by a high resignation rate and lagging labor force participation.

Louisiana’s 3.5% unemployment rate decreased 0.2% from July, marking 18 consecutive months of declines since April 2020. An estimated 73,909 Louisianans were unemployed last month, dropping 2,967 from the previous record set in July. The unemployment rate, which has declined 2.2% over the last year, is now at the lowest level since at least 1976.

Compared to August 2021, there’s now 32,804 fewer unemployed workers in the state.

“These historic numbers are a testament to the strength of our workforce, businesses, and the bipartisan work we’ve done to invest in growing and diversifying our economy. We still face difficult challenges, but our opportunities are so much greater,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said.

The record low unemployment comes as the number of seasonally adjusted employed individuals in the state decreased by 5,449 to 2,022,190 in August, which represents the 10th highest number in the state’s history and an increase of 68,481 year-over-year.

The decreasing trend of both unemployed and employed is reflected in the state’s labor force participation rate, which measures those ages 16 to 64 who are working or looking for work. Louisiana’s labor force participation rate declined 0.2% from July to 58.7%, which remains about 0.9% above the rate in August 2021.

Major industries with the biggest job increases over the last month include Government with 2,800 jobs, Professional and Business Services with 2,200, and Leisure and Hospitality with a 1,600 job gain.

Metropolitan areas that showed the biggest gains from July include 2,800 jobs added in New Orleans, 1,900 in Baton Rouge and 1,300 in Lafayette, while Monroe and Alexandria posted no change and Shreveport lost 200 jobs.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows around 70,000 Louisiana workers also quit their jobs in July, continuing a months-long trend and the first time in over a decade the state has eclipsed the 70,000 figure in consecutive months.

Roughly 444,000 Louisiana workers have now quit their jobs through the first seven months of 2022, an increase of more than 16% over the last year.

Figures for firings and layoffs, meanwhile, remain near record lows, with about 139,000 workers laid off or fired in 2022. That total is down more than 4% year-over-year.

Unsurprisingly, job openings and hiring is on the rise, with the former jumping more than 36% and the latter more than 11%, since July 2021.

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