It’s likely that the last thing on the minds of Louisianans over the holiday season was the most recent job report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), but many in our state know the consequences of the facts of the report all too well.
The report showed that for the second-straight month, Louisiana’s unemployment rate increased. The November 2019 unemployment rate rose to 4.7 percent, up from 4.5 percent in October and 4.3 percent in September.
Meanwhile, the national unemployment rate is 3.5 percent, and the American economy continues to grow and add jobs at a steady clip.
Louisiana’s 4.7 percent unemployment rate translate to 98,712 adults without work in our state, a nearly 4,000-person increase from October and 7,000 since September. Of course, there are far more than 98,712 working age adults without a job in Louisiana, but the BLS only counts those as unemployed if they have recently looked for a job. Thousands of Louisianans are discouraged workers who have simply given up looking due to the lack of jobs and opportunity in the state.
Despite the usual bad news, there is one silver lining to be found in the job report. The number of people working or looking for a job in the state measured by the civilian labor force has increased slightly over the last few months.
Still, Louisiana continues to lag behind not only its neighbors, but the rest of the nation. Texas currently has an unemployment rate of 3.4 percent and experienced the largest job gains of any state at 37,500 new jobs. Alabama’s unemployment rate fell from 3.8 percent in November of 2018 to a record low of 2.7 percent in November 2019.
As a new decade begins, the people of Louisiana need to ask themselves if the current status quo of underperforming the rest of the nation is sustainable or if they will start embracing the policies that have achieved huge victories for states like Alabama and Texas?
Only time will tell. But, for the tens of thousands of Louisianans getting by without a steady stream of income over the holidays, a course correction is needed now.