While this week’s newly released report from the Bureau of Labor Statisticsr on states’ unemployment situations will likely be drowned out by COVID-19 updates, the economic news should concern all Louisianans.
BLS reveals that in January 2020, Louisiana’s unemployment rate rose yet again to 5.3 percent. Since June of last year, the state’s unemployment has only gone up. Louisiana’s 5.3 percent unemployment is higher than every state in the South except Mississippi, and more than a point and a half higher than the southern state average.
Unsurprisingly, the report also revealed there were more than 10,000 fewer employed persons in Louisiana in January 2020 compared to January 2019.
Considering the rapidly developing fallout from COVID-19, these numbers are going only going to get worse.
Many are predicting the nation’s economy will almost certainly enter a recession, with some sectors, such as the leisure and hospitality industry, facing harder hits than most. More than 242,000 thousand Louisianans work in the leisure and hospitality field alone, and this industry was one of the only to add jobs in the state over the past year. Those working at restaurants, hotels, other leisure-based business are reckoning with a number of serious problems, from losing their steady paychecks to not even having an employer to return to.
The recent dramatic and sudden decrease in oil prices also indicates revenue losses in the energy industry, which employs more than 120,000 Louisianans.
These are just a few examples of industries facing harm in the wake of the recent pandemic.
While the legislature made the prudent decision to adjourn its current session, they will likely return to the Capitol with an economic crisis not seen since Hurricane Katrina. They must come together, put politics aside and enact policies that will create jobs and opportunity for everyone in our state.
Some solutions to unlock Louisiana’s potential and get people back to work include fixing the state’s broken legal climate, tax system, and occupational licensing regime, among others.
Louisiana’s policies may not have created this current crisis, but they certainly aren’t making it easier for state residents to weather the coming economic fallout. Louisianans simply can’t afford the status quo approach to governance anymore.