La. payrolls jump most in nation

Published 11:19 pm Saturday, December 22, 2012

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana payrolls grew by 13,000 jobs in November or 0.9 percent, the largest percentage jump from October levels of any state in the nation.

Payroll employment pushed to an all-time high of 1.96 million in the state, moving beyond the pre-Hurricane Katrina peak of 1.95 million for the first time, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers released Friday.

At the same time, Louisiana had the largest one-month drop in the jobless rates of any state.

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The separate unemployment survey shows that the state’s jobless rate fell to 5.8 percent. That’s down from 6.6 percent in October and below the 7.1 percent unemployment rate of November 2011. The last time Louisiana had an unemployment rate below 6 percent was in January 2009.

The number of unemployed Louisianans fell to 120,000 from 138,000 in October. In November 2011, 146,000 Louisianans were unemployed.

“Our education system, workforce development system and overall business climate are all much improved, positioning us for more growth in the future,” Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Curt Eysink said in a statement. “Louisiana has an ever-increasing number of opportunities for people to get great jobs.”

The unemployment rate is calculated by a survey that asks how many people are looking for a job. A second survey each month asks employers how many people are on their payrolls, a measure many economists use as their top labor market indicator.

The number on Louisiana payrolls rose from 1.95 million in October, above the November 2011 level of 1.92 million.

Payrolls increased in November across almost every sector of Louisiana’s economy including trade, transportation and utilities; education and health services; leisure and hospitality; professional and business services; financial activities and construction and manufacturing. Government was the only declining sector, losing 100 jobs.

Overall, unemployment rates fell in 45 states and were flat in five. No state saw unemployment rise. Nevada retained the highest unemployment rate at 10.8 percent, and North Dakota kept the lowest at 3.1 percent.

The national unemployment rate dipped to 7.7 percent in November from 7.9 percent in October. It remained below the 8.7 percent level of November 2011.

The broadest measure of those who are seeking work averaged 12.7 percent in Louisiana over the 12 months ending Oct. 31, the most recent figures available. That number includes people who are working part time because they can’t find a full-time job, are looking for work only sporadically, or have given up looking.

Nationwide, that broad measure averaged 15 percent during the same time.

All of the state’s metro areas posted payroll gains, with the strongest percentage gain of 1.6 percent occurring in Alexandria. The Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe and Houma areas also saw payroll gains of more than 1 percent from October to November.

Lafayette Parish posted the state’s lowest unemployment rate, at 3 percent, while East Carroll continued to have the highest rate at 11.5 percent.

Local-level unemployment statistics aren’t adjusted to cancel out normal seasonal fluctuations. Local jobless rates traditionally fall in November and December on holiday hiring.