For the second time in three months, the number of jobs in metro New Orleans posted a month-to-month decline.

The New Orleans metro area dropped 900 jobs from February to March to hit 523,000 jobs. That was down 55,800 jobs, or 9.6%, compared to a year ago.

Louisiana added 7,100 jobs month-to-month, for a total 1.8 million, according to data released Friday by the Louisiana Workforce Commission. That’s still down 134,700 jobs, or 6.8%, from March 2020. The numbers are not seasonally adjusted.

The data was compiled through surveys conducted during the second week in March, which was after the state removed capacity restrictions on most businesses for the first time in more than a year. Even so, social distancing requirements still restrict how many customers many establishments across the state can have indoors. Live music indoors has also returned with some limitations. Around the same time the survey was taken, the state was expanding the pool of people eligible to get the COVID vaccine.

The March 2020 data was collected the week before the state shut down schools, bars, casinos and restaurant dining rooms in an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Much of the decrease in New Orleans was caused by a decline in the number of people working in the professional and business services sector. It dropped 1,600 jobs from February to 70,200.

Leisure and hospitality added 1,100 jobs month-to-month for 63,500 jobs, still down 24,500 jobs, or 27.8%, over the year.

Construction added 300 jobs to hit 25,000. The sector was down 3,400 jobs, or 12%, from March 2020. Health care and social assistance added 200 jobs to reach 71,600, still 1,400 fewer jobs than a year ago.

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The New Orleans unemployment rate was 8%, down from 8.6% in February but up from 4.9% in March 2020.

The Louisiana unemployment rate was 6.6% in March, better than the 7.1% unemployment rate in February but up from 5.3% a year ago.

BATON ROUGE: Baton Rouge also posted a slight decline in jobs. There were 300 fewer people working in Baton Rouge in March, bringing the total number of jobs to 387,400. That’s down 21,000, or 5.1%, from the 408,400 jobs in March 2020.

The Baton Rouge unemployment rate was 5.8% in March, down from 6.2% in February but up from 4.9% in March 2020.

LAFAYETTE: Acadiana added 1,800 jobs from February to March, the largest increase posted by any of the state’s metro regions. The increase brought the number of jobs to 190,300, still down 12,900 jobs, or 6.4%, from March 2020.

The unemployment rate in Lafayette was 6% in March, down from 6.5% in February but up from 5.2% in March 2020.

OTHER AREAS: Lake Charles added 900 jobs over the month but lost 17,200 jobs over the year to 92,100; Shreveport-Bossier City added 500 jobs month-to-month but was still down 11,800 jobs over the year to 166,600; Alexandria added 400 jobs for the month and lost 1,400 jobs over the year to 59,800; Houma-Thibodaux added 400 jobs over the month but was down 4,100 jobs over the year to 82,100; Hammond added 200 jobs over the month to 45,400 jobs, still down 1,300 jobs over the year; Monroe added 200 jobs month-to-month and lost 3,800 jobs over the year to 73,700.

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