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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Area jobs up 200 for month, down 1,100 for year

Area jobs up 200 for month, down 1,100 for year

According to the newest figures released last week, local oilfield job losses have slowed.

Houma-Thibodaux gained 200 jobs last month but has lost 1,100 since last November amid an oil bust that started more than three years ago.

The report, released by the Louisiana Workforce Commission, reflects the second straight month of local job gains. The metro area, comprised of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, gained 300 jobs in October.

The area posted a 4.4 percent unemployment rate last month, unchanged from October and down from 6.1 percent in November 2016.

Louisiana’s 4.2 percent jobless rate is down from 4.3 percent in October and 5.4 percent in November 2016.

The report shows the unemployment rate has declined because people are leaving the workforce altogether and are no longer counted as jobless. That includes people who have returned to school, left the area or given up on a job search.

The civilian labor force, the number of people working or looking for work, dropped from 107,577 in August 2014 to 84,120 last month. That means 22 percent, or more than one in five people, have left the local workforce since the oil bust began more than three years ago.

However, jobs in the category held steady for the month.

The latest figures bring to 15,800 the estimated number of jobs Houma-Thibodaux has lost since the bust began.

In October, Louisiana economist Loren Scott released an annual forecast that predicted that figure would rise to 16,700 by year’s end. He expects the area to lose another 1,800 jobs next year before gaining 700 in 2019.

Crude prices have risen but remain at about half their mid-2014 high of $115 a barrel, sparking layoffs and work slowdowns in the Gulf of Mexico oilfield. The U.S. industry has rebounded, but job growth has been limited mostly to inland shale fields, where drilling is less costly than the deep waters of the Gulf.

“We’ve observed measurable improvement in the state’s employment outlook over the year, including declines in the unemployment rates across all metro areas compared to 2016,” said Ava Dejoie, Executive Director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission. “These figures reflect the persistence of Louisiana’s job seekers in pursuing gainful employment, and we hope to further restore confidence in our labor force in the coming year.”

The U.S jobless rate was 3.9 percent last month, the same as October and down from 4.4 percent a year ago.