Job totals shrink in Louisiana in July, but unemployment rate falls as more leave labor force

Economic Indicators Associated Press

Fewer people had jobs in Louisiana in July as employer payrolls shrank, but the unemployment rate fell again as even more people left the labor force.

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The state's unemployment rate fell to 6.2 percent in July from 6.4 percent in June. July 2014's jobless rate was also 6.4 percent.

Fewer people reported having jobs, but the labor force fell by nearly 13,000 people. Because so many people stopped looking for work, the number of unemployed Louisianans fell to 137,000. That's down 5,000 from June, and about 2,000 lower than July 2014.

Both sets of figures — adjusted to cancel out seasonal changes — were released Friday by the U.S. Labor Department.

Unemployment rates fell in 41 states in July, rose in six, and were flat in three. West Virginia, at 7.5 percent, had the highest unemployment rate among the states, while Louisiana's rate tied for seventh-highest. Nebraska had the lowest, at 2.7 percent.

The national unemployment rate was level from June to July at 5.3 percent. It was down from 6.2 percent a year ago.

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The unemployment rate is calculated by a survey asking how many people are looking for a job. A second survey asks employers how many people are on their payrolls, a measure many economists use as their top labor market indicator.

Payrolls fell by 5,500 from June in Louisiana, although they remain about 7,000 above the level of July 2014. The last year has showed a slowing in what had been rapid payroll increases in Louisiana, as low oil prices and government budget struggles have dampened parts of the state's economy.

Almost half of July's losses occurred in the government sector, with trade, transportation and utilities; education and health services; financial activities and manufacturing also posting declines. Sectors showing payroll increases included leisure and hospitality, professional and business services and construction.

The broadest measure of those who are unemployed averaged 11.9 percent in Louisiana for the year ending in June, the most recent figures released. That includes people who look for work only sporadically, who have given up looking, or who work part time because they can't find a full-time job.

Nationwide, that broad measure averaged 11.3 percent during the same period.

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Online: State employment report: http://1.usa.gov/104hKGL

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