St. Mary unemployment decreased in August

St. Mary Parish followed the state’s trend in August, with unemployment pushing down below 9 percent for the first time in some months.

The local jobless rate was 8.8 percent in August, falling from 9.6 percent in July, an improvement of 0.8 percent. The rate in August 2010 was 9.7 percent.

There were 20,198 employed in August, with 1,961 jobless. July’s figures included 20,314 employed and 2,158 jobless.

In neighboring Assumption Parish, 9,027 were employed in August, with 1,071 unemployed, a 10.6 percent rate. That was a decline of almost a full percent from the 11.5 percent rate posted in July, when the parish reported 9,089 employed and 1,182 unemployed.

The Houma-Thibodaux-Bayou Cane Metropolitan Statistical Area, which comprises nearby Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes, once again posted the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.9 percent; each parish reported that rate individually, down from the 5.4 percent each reported in July.

Neighboring Iberia Parish decreased from 7.6 percent to 7 percent joblessness; while St. Martin Parish, part of the Lafayette MSA, recorded 6.7 percent unemployment overall. There is no separate calculation for Lower St. Martin.

Lafayette Parish had a 5.3 percent jobless rate, and the MSA rate was 5.6 percent.

While the jobless trend was downward, a number of parishes statewide still report double-digit unemployment rates. East Carroll remains the parish with the highest unemployment rate in the state, but it has improved from 17 percent to 15.7 percent; West Carroll dropped from 16.9 percent to 15.5 percent.

Also still in double digits are Morehouse, Franklin, Tensas, Concordia, Madison, Iberville, St. James and St. Helena.

Among parishes similar in size to St. Mary, rates include St. Bernard, 7.2; St. Charles, 6.8; St. John the Baptist, 9.1; Acadia, 6.2; Lincoln, 9.1; Vermilion, 6.2; Vernon, 7; and Webster, 7.6.

Louisiana’s annual job growth was just about unchanged in August.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission says there were 30,300 more non-farm jobs last month than in August 2010. That’s a slight slowdown from the July report, which showed 32,100 more jobs than in July 2010. The figures are not adjusted for seasonal factors.

Over the year, the goods-producing sector — including petroleum, construction and manufacturing — gained 9,500 jobs, while the service-providing sector added 20,800 jobs.

Government employment continues to shrink in the state. Louisiana had 6,800 fewer government employees at all levels than a year ago in August. Private service-providing employment grew by 27,600 jobs.

In the goods-producing sector, manufacturing has gained 6,100 jobs over the past 12 months, followed by construction with 1,800 and petroleum with 1,600. In the service-providing sector, private education-health services gained 14,500 jobs over the year, followed by trade, transportation and utilities with 6,500 jobs, leisure-hospitality with 6,400 jobs, information services with 3,200 jobs, and financial services with 1,800 jobs.

From July to August, Louisiana added 1,600 jobs.

Some concerns have been raised about a new method being used to gather the statistics. Under a federally mandated change that began in March, the state has less power with the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics to adjust atypical numbers. The Workforce Commission has said a year’s worth of data under the new method will have to be gathered before any conclusions can be reached on whether the jobs’ numbers are being skewed.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the state’s unemployment rate in August was 7.2 percent, down from 7.6 percent in July. The national jobless rate was 9.1 percent for both months.

Among the state’s metropolitan areas:

—New Orleans gained 10,500 jobs over the year, all in the service-providing sector. Goods-producing employment was unchanged.

—Baton Rouge lost 4,900 jobs over the year, including 800 goods-producing jobs and 4,100 in the service-providing sector.

—Houma-Thibodaux gained 3,100 jobs in the August-to-August comparison. That included 700 goods-producing jobs and 2,400 service-providing jobs.

—Lafayette gained 2,800 jobs over 12 months — 1,400 in each major sector.

—Lake Charles gained 2,300 jobs over the year, including 500 in the goods-production sector and 1,800 in the service-providing sector.

— Shreveport-Bossier City added 2,900 jobs over 12 months, including 1,000 goods-producing jobs and 1,900 in the service-providing sector.

—Monroe added 700 jobs over the year — 300 in the goods-producing sector and 400 in the service-providing sector.

—Alexandria added 2,500 jobs over the year. Goods-producing employment increased by 200 jobs, while service-providing jobs increased by 2,300.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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