Louisiana's unemployment rate rose for the third straight month in July, but employer payrolls continued to grow strongly, telling two different stories about the state's labor market.
The state's jobless rate rose to 5.4 percent in July from 5 percent in June. Louisiana's unemployment rate was 6.4 percent in July 2013.
A separate survey shows employers added 7,700 workers to payrolls in July. That's a big monthly increase and another record high for payroll jobs in the state.
The figures — adjusted to cancel out normal seasonal changes — were released Monday by the U.S. Labor Department. Though the two surveys typically move in the same direction over the long run, they can diverge from month to month.
Most of the increase in unemployment came from Louisianans launching job searches but not finding work. That lifted the number of unemployed people, who aren't counted unless they're actively seeking work. Still, the rise in people seeking jobs suggests they're more optimistic about their prospects.
The number of unemployed Louisianans rose by nearly 9,000 in July to almost 114,000. In July 2013, Louisiana had 133,000 unemployed workers.
Jobless rates rose in 30 states, fell in eight and were unchanged in 12. Mississippi had the highest jobless rate at 8 percent, while North Dakota retained the nation's lowest jobless rate at 2.8 percent.
The national unemployment rate rose to 6.2 percent in July from 6.1 percent in June. That's lower than the 7.3 percent rate in July 2013.
Louisiana has seen strong payroll growth since the beginning of 2010, with payrolls rising 5.7 percent during that time, far outstripping the number of jobs lost during the recession.
In July, payrolls rose in Louisiana in sectors including trade, transportation and utilities; professional and business services; education and health services; leisure and hospitality; construction and manufacturing. Payrolls fell in financial activities and government.
The broadest measure of those who are unemployed averaged 11 percent in Louisiana from July 2013 through June 2014, the most recent figures released. That includes people looking for work only sporadically, who have given up looking or who work part time because they can't find a full-time job.
Nationwide, that broad measure averaged 12.9 percent during the same period.