Memorial Day is about remembering those who gave their lives to defend this great country we all love. This should still be first and foremost in the minds of everyone today. But this Memorial Day is also different than any other in our state’s history.
Many across Louisiana are facing desperate circumstances and the need for relief grows with each day. And while many are rightly disappointed over the cancellation of many community gatherings, like large barbecues and parades, the historic impacts of the state’s economic shutdown to Louisiana’s workers and jobs market is the true cause for alarm.
According to the more recent data, another 28,000 people filed for unemployment in Louisiana, more than 15 times the rate during normal times. More than 630,000 Louisianans have filed for unemployment insurance since March 7. Of those, more than 320,000 are currently receiving unemployment benefits. Before the economic crisis, the number of people on unemployment hovered at just over 10,000.
And unfortunately, this was not the only bad news looming over the state going into the weekend. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported Louisiana’s unemployment rate for the month of April was 14.5 percent, more than doubling March and ranking 18th highest in the nation. This also translates to approximately 188,000 more people unemployed compared to April of last year.
Adding to the concerning stats is the fact that Louisiana’s civilian labor force, which is made of up of people working or looking for work, plummeted by 188,000 from March to April.
Of those who lost their job over the last month, an astounding 98,000 (44 percent) were in the leisure and hospitality sector. The next hardest hit industries were trade, transportation and utilities, with 17 percent of the total. The economic fallout from this crisis certainly does not appear to be impacting people equally, yet all working Louisianans will inevitably feel the damaging effects of the shutdown.
This is the reality of the situation we’re facing now in Louisiana, and while the numbers can be distressing, there is reason for optimism. There are currently many bills moving forward positively at the legislature that would remove major barriers to jobs and opportunity for our state’s citizens so we can truly Get Louisiana Working. There is other legislation nearing final approval that would lessen the cost of lawsuit abuse on Louisianans, as well as bills and constitutional amendments aimed at reining in state spending to ensure our government lives within its means.
So this Memorial Day, remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our state and country, and also keep in mind those family, friends, and neighbors who are currently struggling during this unprecedented time.