Acadiana Business

La. jobless rate rises even as more have jobs

by Walter Pierce

Both sets of figures - adjusted to cancel out seasonal changes - were released by the U.S. Labor Department.

Louisiana's unemployment rate jumped again in August, the fourth straight month with an increase, according to figures released Friday.

The state's jobless rate rose to 5.8 percent. Louisiana's unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in July, but remains below August 2013's level of 6.2 percent.

The labor force rose by 15,000 people in August, while about 5,500 more people reported having jobs.

A separate survey shows employer payrolls rose to yet another all-time high in Louisiana.

Both sets of figures - adjusted to cancel out seasonal changes - were released by the U.S. Labor Department.

Most of the increase in unemployment came from more Louisianans launching job searches than finding work. That lifted the number of unemployed people, who aren't counted unless they're actively seeking work.

The report found 123,000 Louisianans were unemployed in August, up from about 114,000 in July and below the 131,000 in August 2013.

Jobless rates rose in 24 states, fell in 15 and were unchanged in 11. Georgia had the highest jobless rate at 8.1 percent, while North Dakota retained the nation's lowest jobless rate at 2.8 percent.

The national unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent in August from 6.2 percent in July. That's lower than the 7.2 percent rate in August 2013.

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.

Louisiana payrolls rose by 2,000 in August to 1.98 million. That was the smallest gain since March, but payrolls are 30,000 higher than in August 2013.

The state has seen strong payroll growth since the beginning of 2010, with payrolls rising 5.8 percent during that time, far outstripping the number of jobs lost during the recession.

In August, payrolls rose in Louisiana in sectors including education and health services, professional and business services, construction and manufacturing. Payrolls fell in trade, transportation and utilities; leisure and hospitality and government. Payrolls were flat in financial activities.

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.