The continuing slump in oil prices — with no signs of a rebound any time soon — has metro Lafayette’s unemployment rate at 6.8 percent and leading the nation in job losses over the last year, according to new data from the Louisiana Workforce Commission. The data tracks unemployment in the Lafayette Metropolitan Statistical Area, which comprises Lafayette, Iberia, St. Martin and Vermilion parishes. The MSA shed roughly 4,300 jobs from October 2014 to October of this year.
The LWC report shows the Houma-Terrebonne and Shreveport areas also struggling with job losses tied to a pull-back in oil and gas activity due to low oil prices.
However, unemployment rates in most of the state’s nine MSAs fell during the same time period, although Louisiana’s overall unemployment rate of 6.2 percent in October outpaces the overall U.S. unemployment rate of 5 percent. Lafayette’s jobless rate climbed to a relatively staggering 6.8 percent in October, tied for second-most with Houma-Terrebonne but behind Shreveport’s 7.2 percent.
Meanwhile in Lake Charles, where a construction boom tied to some major refinery projects is creating robust job growth, the unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in October; the Lake area’s job gains roughly mirrored Lafayette’s job losses with 4,600 jobs created.
“The construction boom in the Southwest coupled with the continued growth of jobs in the hospitality sector are the bright spots in our state’s jobs picture this fall,” LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink says in the report. “However, we continue to see low oil prices having a negative effect on jobs in the Lafayette, Houma and Shreveport areas.”
Read the LWC report here.