Oct. 21–Houma-Thibodaux gained 100 jobs last month and is up 200 compared to September 2017, preliminary figures show.
If the figures hold until revised data are released in the coming week, it would mean the number of jobs in the area has increased by 200 since the year began.
The metro area, comprised of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, has lost roughly 16,000 jobs — nearly one of every five — since mid-2014 as low crude prices sparked layoffs and work slowdowns throughout the oil industry. The U.S. industry has rebounded along with oil prices, but job growth has been limited mostly to inland shale fields, where drilling is less costly than the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Indicators have shown the Gulf oilfield has been stabilizing after years of decline. Bidding was up during August’s oil lease sale compared to the last one in March, though companies sought the right to drill in only about 1 percent of the acreage the federal government offered.
Louisiana economist Loren Scott projects the metro area will gain 700 jobs, 0.8 percent, next year. It will add another 2,100 jobs, 2.4 percent, in 2020, driven largely by gains in oil and gas.
For almost all of 2018, oil has traded above $60 a barrel, a figure widely cited as the break-even point for most Gulf deepwater operations, though it is dropping. West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, closed trading at $69.12 a barrel Friday, down 3.1 percent for the week. Brent crude, the global benchmark, closed at $79.78 a barrel, up just under 1 percent for the week.
The Gulf rig count stood at 19 last week, down three for the week and one compared to a year ago, according to figures released Friday by the Houston-based oilfield-services company Baker-Hughes. But it remains down 66 percent from 56 rigs in August 2014, when the offshore oil bust began.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission’s revised jobs report will also include metro area unemployment rates and more details about the categories of jobs lost or gained.
The area’s August unemployment rate of 5.4 percent was down from 5.8 percent in July and 5.7 percent a year ago.
The latest figures, released Friday, are adjusted for seasonal variations, including temporary jobs businesses add or eliminate routinely at certain times of the year.
Louisiana’s unemployment rate was 5 percent last month, the same as August and up from 4.8 percent a year earlier, the new data show.
The national average dropped from 3.9 percent in August to 3.7 percent last month, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s down from 4.2 percent in September 2017.
Louisiana has the nation’s fourth-highest jobless rate, behind West Virginia, the District of Columbia and Alaska.
— Executive Editor Keith Magill can be reached at 857-2201 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @CourierEditor.
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