Houma-Thibodaux gained 900 jobs in May and is up 4,000 compared to a year earlier, a new report shows.

The yearly gain, however, results not from any major growth in the local economy but because May 2020 was one of the worst for job losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, it was the first full month of state restrictions on social gatherings and business aimed at curbing the virus’s spread.

As a result, Houma-Thibodaux’s May 2020 unemployment rate skyrocketed to 11.2%.

The metro area, comprised of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, posted a 5.6% jobless rate in May, no change from April, according to a report released last week by the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

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The number of people working in the two parishes combined is still down by just under 1,000 compared to before the pandemic, state figures show. In May, 83,616 people held jobs locally compared with 84,614 in February 2020.

But the number of people unemployed and looking for work in May across the two parishes, 4,952, is about half of what it was a year ago.

The number of people working in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes combined is still down by just under 1,000 compared to before the pandemic, state figures show.

A forecast released in May by the University of Louisiana-Lafayette’s business school says it will likely take well into next year for the state to recover the jobs lost during the pandemic. Houma-Thibodaux and Lafayette could take longer because of weak activity in the Gulf of Mexico oilfield, which fuels both economies. And both areas were just beginning to recover from a six-year oil bust when the pandemic hit.

Loren Scott, a well-known Louisiana economist, offered a similar prediction in his annual forecast last fall. After years of losses, Houma-Thibodaux will gain 3,200 jobs over the next two years, Scott said. But that will still leave the local economy 1,300 jobs below where it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. And most of the gains are jobs coming back online as the pandemic ebbs, not newly created business activity.

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Here are other local trends from the latest Workforce Commission report. The figures are not adjusted for seasonal variations.

► Local jobs directly involved in oil and gas exploration and production, 5,000 in May, are up by 100 for the month and year. The gain ends 25 straight months of year-to-year losses in the category.

► Oilfield-service jobs, at 4,100, also rose by 100 for the month and year.

► Local shipbuilding and maritime jobs, now totaling 3,800, are down 100 for the month and 500, or 12%, from May 2020.

► A category labeled “administrative and support services,” which includes mostly oil-related jobs, totaled 3,000 in May, no change for the month and up 200 compared to a year earlier.

► Jobs in leisure and hospitality, a category that includes restaurants, bars and hotels, totaled 7,800 in May, no change for the month. The category has regained 1,500 jobs, up 24%, since May 2020.

► The area’s civilian labor

Houma-Thibodaux gained 400 jobs in March but was down 4,100 compared to a year earlier, the latest state figures show.

The metro area, comprised of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, has lost jobs year-to-year for 13 straight months, according to the latest report from the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

The latest figures compare current job totals to those in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Louisiana and the state enacted restrictions on social gatherings and business aimed at curbing the virus’s spread.

Houma-Thibodaux posted a 5.7% unemployment rate in March, down from 6.2% in February but up from 5% percent a year earlier.

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Before the pandemic hit, the area was just beginning to recover from an oil bust that started in 2014, stripping an estimated 25,000 jobs from the economy.

Jobs in the oilfield, the driving force for the local economy, showed some of the biggest percentage declines among categories tracked in the state report.  

Here are other local trends in the report. The figures are not adjusted for seasonal variations.

► Local jobs directly involved in oil and gas exploration and production rose by 200 from February to March. The total, 5,000, is down 1,000, or 17%, compared to March 2020. Year-to-year job totals in the category have been down for 24 consecutive months.

► Oilfield-service jobs rose by 100 from February to March. The total, 4,000, is down 1,200, or 23%, for the year.

► Local shipbuilding and maritime jobs, now totaling 3,800, remained steady for the month but are down 600, or 14%, for the year.

► A category labeled “administrative and support services,” which includes mostly oil-related jobs, totaled 3,000 in March, up 100 for the month but down 300, or 9%, compared to a year earlier.

► Leisure and hospitality, a category that includes restaurants, bars and hotels, gained 100 jobs over the month, bringing the total to 7,700. The category remains down 300 jobs, a 4% loss, compared to March 2020.

► The area’s civilian labor force — defined as those employed or actively looking for work — totaled 88,037 in March. That’s up 1,125 for the month but down 2,041 for the year. Just over 500 more people in Terrebonne and Lafourche were unemployed and looking for work in March than when the pandemic began a year earlier.

► Houma-Thibodaux’s 5.7% March jobless rate is 0.9 percentage points lower than the state’s 6.6% and 0.5 percentage points lower than the nation’s 6.2%.

► In Terrebonne, 43,455 people were employed in March while 2,939 were jobless but looking for work. The parish’s unemployment rate was 6.3%.

► In Lafourche, 39,577 residents held jobs while 2,066 were unemployed. The parish posted a 5% unemployment rate in March.

– Courier and Daily Comet Executive Editor Keith Magill can be reached at 857-2201 or [email protected]

Houma-Thibodaux gained 500 jobs in February but was down 5,700 compared to a year earlier, the latest state figures show.

The metro area, comprised of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, has lost jobs year-to-year for 12 straight months, according to a report released last week by the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

The latest figures compare current job totals to those in February 2020, a month before the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on social gatherings and business aimed at curbing the virus’s spread.

Houma-Thibodaux posted a 6.2% unemployment rate in February, down from 6.7% in January but up from 3.9% percent a year earlier.

Before the pandemic hit, the area was just beginning to recover from an oil bust that started in 2014, stripping an estimated 25,000 jobs from the economy.

Jobs in the oilfield, the driving force for the local economy, showed the biggest percentage declines among categories tracked in the state report.  

Here are other local trends in the latest jobs report. The figures are not adjusted for seasonal variations.

► Local jobs directly involved in oil and gas exploration and production dropped by 100 from January to February. The total, 4,700, is down 1,500, or 24%, compared to February 2020. Year-to-year job totals in the category have been down for 23 consecutive months.

► Oilfield-service jobs showed no change from January to February. The total, 3,900, is down 1,400, or 24%, for the year.

► Local shipbuilding and maritime jobs, now totaling 3,800, remained steady for the month but are down 700, or 16%, for the year.

► A category labeled “administrative and support services,” which includes mostly oil-related jobs, totaled 2,900 in February, no change for the month but down 400, or 12%, compared to a year earlier.

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► Leisure and hospitality, a category that includes restaurants, bars and hotels, gained 200 jobs over the month, bringing the total to 7,600. The category remains down 500 jobs, a 6% loss, compared to February 2020.

► The area’s civilian labor force — defined as those employed or actively looking for work — totaled 86,367 in February. That’s almost no change for the month but up 2,985 for the year. Nearly 2,000 more people in Terrebonne and Lafourche were unemployed and looking for work in February compared with a year earlier. 

► Houma-Thibodaux’s 6.2% February jobless rate is 0.9 percentage points lower than the state’s 7.1% and 0.4 percentage points higher than the nation’s 6.6%.

► In Terrebonne, 42,445 people were employed in February while 3,163 were jobless but looking for work. The parish’s unemployment rate was 6.9%.

► In Lafourche, 38,558 residents held jobs while 2,201 were unemployed. The parish posted a 5.4% unemployment rate in February.

– Courier and Daily Comet Executive Editor Keith Magill can be reached at 857-2201 or [email protected]