If you’ve been paying attention to our posts on the Louisiana economy, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn the data in the report released by Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) this week is not flattering for Louisiana. The report shows the 2019 average for a variety of labor statistics for each state, and it provides more evidence that Louisiana is falling further behind the rest of the country.
Over the course of 2019, Louisiana had an average unemployment rate of 4.8 percent, the highest in the South outside of Mississippi and West Virginia. The national average rate at this time was 3.7 percent, while Louisiana’s neighbors averaged 3.6 percent.
Simply put, while other southern states are adding jobs and providing ample opportunity for their citizens during this current economic boom, Louisiana continues to move in the opposite direction.
What’s worse is this terrible unemployment data isn’t the most shocking finding in the report. The BLS also measured the average overall population, the civilian labor force (those working or wanting to work) and number of employed people in all 50 states from 2018 to 2019. Louisiana saw a decrease in each of these categories from 2018 to 2019. Here’s a breakdown of each specific statistic:
- The population of Louisiana decreased by 4,000 people.
- The number of employed persons decreased by 8,000 people.
- The Civilian Labor Force decreased by 9,000 people.
Only two other southern states experienced any decreases in these areas. West Virginia saw a decrease in population but an increase in civilian labor force and employed persons, while Mississippi had a drop of only 1,000 in employed persons but an increase in the other two categories.
This all paints a familiar picture of a state that continues to perform worse economically than every other state in the region. It’s no wonder the No. 1 reason people are moving away from Louisiana is because of a job.
These numbers combined with other economic data prove Louisiana is failing economically. Those who suggest everything is fine or even claim Louisiana is thriving are either unaware of the facts or purposely misrepresenting them.
If Louisiana wants to break this trend, our elected officials will need to spend the next three months of the legislative session doing the hard work of passing fundamental reforms to address the key problems holding us back. Otherwise, who knows how far behind we’ll be from the rest of the region and country next year.