Louisiana added 14,700 jobs between January and February, led by gains in government sector employment amid the coronavirus vaccine roll out, but was still down 158,000 jobs compared to a year ago.
Louisiana had 1,830,600 nonfarm jobs in February, down 7.9%, compared to 1,988,600 jobs in February 2020, according to preliminary data released Monday by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data is not seasonally adjusted.
Statewide, unemployment was 7.1%, down from 7.6% in January but remains higher than the 4.2% rate in February 2020. The U.S. unemployment rate was 6.6%, down from 6.8% in January but up from its pre-pandemic level of 3.8% a year earlier.
Total government jobs increased by 4,400 over the month to 319,000, but was still down 15,000 jobs over the year. Inside that figure, state government expanded the most, from 86,200 workers in January to 90,600 in February but was still down compared to a year ago.
In recent weeks, Louisiana has swiftly expanded eligibility for the coronavirus vaccine and has set up mass vaccination sites across the state. Next week, all Louisiana residents 16 years and older are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Some of the rebounding state workforce is related to educational services, likely in public health.
Leisure and hospitality, the hardest hit sector in the state, added 3,400 jobs between January and February but still has a long road to recovery as it was down 44,200 jobs over the year to 191,500.
Professional and business services gained 3,200 workers over the month but was still down 13,000 over the year to 205,300.
Construction added 1,700 jobs month-over-month but was still down 19,900 jobs over the year to 115,600; trade, transportation and utilities added 1,700 jobs over the month but remained down 14,000 jobs over the year at 361,500; financial activities added 1,400 workers over the month but was down 5,600 over the year to 88,300. Education and health services added 700 jobs over the month but was down 12,600 over the year to 313,600. Information was flat over the month and was down 5,700 jobs over the year to 17,200.
Mining and logging, which includes oil and gas extraction but also related service companies, lost another 500 jobs between January and February statewide and was down 7,800 jobs over the year to 27,200 jobs. Manufacturing lost another 300 jobs over the month and was down 11,700 jobs since February 2020 to 126,200. Other services lost 1,000 workers over the month and was down 8,500 workers over the year to 65,200.
A separate report this week showed new unemployment claims across Louisiana dropped to 6,909 from 7,195 one week before, according to U.S. Department of Labor data released on Thursday. There were another 3,188 new claims filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a special federal program for the self-employed such as independent contractors, compared to 2,782 claims one week before.
There were 46,170 continuing existing unemployment claims for the week ending March 13, the latest state data available.
The state has administered $8 billion in unemployment benefits since March 2020.
Baton Rouge is lagging markets of similar size in one key indicator in its economic recovery — jobs.
The Baton Rouge area lost 4,800 jobs from December to January, giving the region 20,700 fewer jobs than it had a year ago.
Louisiana lost 33,300 jobs between December and January as the overall jobs recovery from the coronavirus pandemic reversed for the first time…