Nov. 17–Houma-Thibodaux lost 200 jobs last month and is down 300 compared to October 2017, preliminary figures show.
If today’s figures from the Louisiana Workforce Commission hold until revised data are released later this month, it would mean the number of jobs in the area has shown no net change 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, the area’s key economic engine, has been stabilizing. 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. However, concerns about a potential crude glut have pushed prices down by 20 percent since the beginning of October. Brent, the international benchmark, closed today at $66.76 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, closed at $56.46 a barrel.
The Gulf rig count stood at 21 this week, up one compared to both a week and a year ago, according to figures released today by the Houston-based oilfield-services company Baker-Hughes. But it remains down 63 percent from 56 rigs in August 2014, when the offshore oil bust began.
Louisiana gained 500 jobs last month directly involved with oil and gas production and exploration, the latest report shows. The figure is up 2,100 compared to a year ago.
The state’s revised jobs report will include metro area unemployment rates and more details about the categories of local jobs lost or gained.
Houma-Thibodaux’s unemployment rate of 5.1 percent in September, the latest available, was down from 5.4 percent in August and 5.2 percent in September 2017. Including ties, Houma-Thibodaux’s unemployment rate ranked 351st among 388 metro areas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Thirty-four areas had higher jobless rates.
The figures released today 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 since August and up from 4.8 percent in October 2017, the new data show.
The national unemployment rate was unchanged from September at 3.7 percent but down from 4.1 percent in October 2017, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Louisiana has the nation’s fourth-highest jobless rate, behind West Virginia, the District of Columbia and Alaska.
Nonetheless, Louisiana has added jobs for the past 13 months, officials said.
“Louisianans have continued to re-enter the labor market into jobs that both pay well and provide support for Louisiana residents and their families,” Louisiana Workforce Commission Secretary Ava Dejoie said in a news release. “This, coupled with the recent news of Louisiana’s 4.3 percent Gross Domestic Product increase during the second quarter, which ranked 12th in the nation, shows that the state is moving in a direction that both employees and business owners can be confident in.”
— Executive Editor Keith Magill can be reached at 857-2201 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @CourierEditor.
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