February nonfarm jobs in Louisiana highest ever

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana is still hiring, says Tim Barfield, executive director of the state Workforce Commission.

LWC announced Wednesday that seasonally adjusted, nonfarm jobs in the state for February grew by 6,200 since February of last year and by 800 since last month.

The growth in jobs brings the February total to 1,942,400, the highest February level ever in Louisiana.

Employment in Louisiana continues to run in the opposite direction from the national trend of nonfarm jobs continuing to fall sharply.

“It is very clear that Louisiana employers are still hiring and that our state has opportunities for our citizens,” Barfield said.

According to the adjusted figures, every metropolitan statistical area in the state gained jobs from January to February. The growth was led by the Baton Rouge and Monroe MSAs, which gained 4,100 and 1,600 jobs, respectively.

The picture is not quite as rosy when looking at the civilian labor force statistics, which are not seasonally adjusted. While Baton Rouge, Monroe and Houma-Thibodeaux showed slight gains in the civilian labor force from January to February, all other MSAs – including that of Lafayette and St. Martin – posted losses.

Civilian labor force statistics showing the numbers of people employed and unemployed (see chart) are estimated from a residence-based survey. The adjusted, nonfarm jobs statistics cited by the LWC are estimated from an employer-based survey.

According to the adjusted numbers, Louisiana’s civilian labor force for February, while down slightly from January, is the highest February level in the history of the state, giving employers a larger labor pool to draw from.

“The increase in jobs and the increase in people looking for work tell us what our challenge is,” Barfield said. “We need to always be focused on connecting job seekers with available opportunities and helping job seekers overcome their barriers to employment.”

Unadjusted unemployment rates are used to compare parishes and MSAs to each other and to the state and nation. The February 2009 unadjusted unemployment rate for Louisiana was 5.5 percent, down from the revised January rate of 5.7 percent. Unadjusted unemployment rates held steady or improved from January in every MSA. Lafourche Parish had the lowest unemployment rate of 3.4 percent in February 2009 while West Carroll Parish had the highest unemployment rate at 16 percent.

The Lafayette MSA, consisting of Lafayette and St. Martin parishes, had the second lowest unemployment at 3.0 percent. It was 3.7 in for Lafayette, steady from last month, and 4.9 percent for St. Martin, up from 4.7 in January.

The breakdown of adjusted jobs by sector for February was:

•Mining and logging (formerly natural resources and mining), 54,900 employed in February 2009, down from 55,200 in January.

•Construction, 143,900, up from 141,000.

•Manufacturing, 148,900, down from 149,200.

•Trade, transportation, and utilities, 379,700, up from 379,100.

•Information, 27,200, up 300 from the previous month.

•Financial activities, 92,500, down from 94,200.

•Professional and business services, 205,500, up from 203,900.

•Education and health services, 258,100, up from 257,500.

•Leisure and hospitality, 199,000, down from 200,200.

•Other services, 69,500, up from 68,800.

•Government, 363,200, down 2,400 from last month.

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