Seasonally adjusted unemployment rate drops 0.3% from December; benchmarked data shows new employment high set in January 2020

People who lost their jobs wait in line to file for unemployment following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease, at an Arkansas Workforce Center in Fayetteville, Ark., on April 6, 2020.Nick Oxford / Reuters file

Seasonally adjusted unemployment rate drops 0.3% from December; benchmarked data shows new employment high set in January 2020

Posted: Mar 15, 2021 3:18 PM

BATON ROUGE – Preliminary data for January 2021 released today by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) shows that Louisiana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased from December 2020 by 0.3 percentage points to 7.6%. This is the lowest rate for the state since the pre-pandemic March 2020 rate of 5.3%. The rate for January 2020 is 5.1%.

The figures in todays release reflect data revisions made in the annual benchmark process. Benchmarking is the BLS’s adjustment procedure to prior years’ data which impacts every state with the publication of January data. During this procedure, survey data used to prepare monthly reports on nonfarm employment, the labor force, and unemployment rates is replaced by the actual employment data contained in the quarterly wage and tax reports filed by Louisiana employers. The two data sets that undergo benchmarking are the Current Employment Statistics (CES) and Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) programs.

The LAUS program revises at a minimum, five years of previous data to incorporate new inputs and population data. This year, due to a model change, LAUS data was revised from 1976 to 2020. At the state level, LAUS receives new population controls from the Census Bureau, as well as updated CES and Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims inputs.

With the new benchmarked figures, the all time highest seasonally adjusted number of employed indviduals ever on record is seen in January 2020 with 2,041,637 individuals. The employment low point due to the pandemic occurs in May 2020, with 1,771,746 individuals; the January 2021 data shows a recovery of 153,680 individuals from May 2020.

From December 2020, the number of seasonally adjusted employed individuals decreased by 4,106 from 1,929,532 to 1,925,426 in January 2021. From January 2020, the number of seasonally adjusted employed individuals decreased by 116,211 people.

Since December 2020, the number of seasonally adjusted unemployed individuals decreased by 6,945 from 165,493 to 158,548 in January 2021. When compared to January 2020, the number of seasonally adjusted unemployed individuals increased by 49,278.

The seasonally adjusted civilian labor force, or the number of people employed or looking for work, was 2,083,974 in January 2021. This shows a decline of 11,051 individuals from December 2020. The series is down 66,933 individuals from the January 2020 figure of 2,150,907.

“Although revised figures show smaller gains than previously reported, employment is up significantly from the pandemic low point in April. As Louisiana moves into Phase 3 and the amount of vaccinations increase, businesses across the state will be able to begin the path back to normal” said Louisiana Workforce Commission Secretary Ava Dejoie. "LWC staff continue their amazing work throughout the state in helping our citizens recover and return to work.”

State data for the month of February, the first data collected after initial vaccine issuance, will be released on March 26, 2021. For additional state and MSA data release dates, please click here

Among Louisiana’s MSAs in January 2021, seasonally adjusted data shows:

Alexandria lost 400 jobs from December 2020 and lost 1,900 jobs from January 2020.

Baton Rouge gained 700 jobs from December 2020, but lost 19,400 jobs from January 2020.

Hammond gained 100 jobs from December 2020, but lost 1,000 jobs from January 2020.

Houma lost 500 jobs from December 2020 and lost 6,000 jobs from January 2020.

Lafayette lost 300 jobs from December 2020 and lost 17,800 jobs from January 2020.

Lake Charles gained 100 jobs from December 2020, but lost 20,800 jobs from January 2020.

Monroe lost 100 jobs from December 2020 and lost 3,800 jobs from January 2020.

New Orleans lost 600 jobs from December 2020 and lost 67,100 jobs from January 2020.

Shreveport lost 3,200 jobs from December 2020 and lost 15,300 jobs from January 2020.

Not Seasonally Adjusted Data

Since December 2020, not seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment decreased by 33,300 jobs from 1,846,100 to 1,812,800 in January 2021. When compared to January 2020, not seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment decreased by 164,900 jobs.

Louisiana’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for January 2021 is 7.6 percent, an increase of 0.3 percentage points from December 2020’s benchmarked not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 7.3 percent. The January 2020 rate is 5.2 percent.

Since December 2020, the number of not seasonally adjusted employed individuals decreased by 38,427 from 1,931,983 to 1,893,556 in January 2021. When compared to January 2020, the number of not seasonally adjusted employed individuals decreased by 129,353.

Since December 2020, the number of not seasonally adjusted unemployed individuals increased by 4,606 from 151,178 to 155,784 in January 2021. When compared to January 2020, the number of not seasonally adjusted unemployed individuals increased by 44,995.

Not seasonally adjusted January 2021 unemployment rates for Louisiana’s nine MSAs are as follows:

Alexandria: 5.2 percent, up from 5.1 percent in December 2020, but down from 5.6 percent in January 2020.

Baton Rouge: 6.7 percent, up from 6.4 percent in December 2020 and up from 4.7 percent in January 2020.

Hammond: 8.7 percent, up from 8.2 percent in December 2020 and up from 6.0 percent in January 2020.

Houma: 6.7 percent, up from 6.3 percent in December 2020 and up from 4.9 percent in January 2020.

Lafayette: 7.0 percent, up from 6.6 percent in December 2020 and up from 5.1 percent in January 2020.

Lake Charles: 8.2 percent, down from 8.4 percent in December 2020, but up from 4.8 percent in January 2020.

Monroe: 6.6 percent, up from 6.3 percent in December 2020 and up from 5.8 percent in January 2020.

New Orleans: 9.1 percent, up from 8.7 percent in December 2020 and up from 4.7 percent in January 2020.

Shreveport: 7.4 percent, up from 7.1 percent in December 2020 and up from 5.5 percent in January 2020

State data for the month of February, the first data collected after initial vaccine issuance, will be released on March 26, 2021.For additional state and MSA data release dates, please click here

Seasonally Adjusted vs. Not Seasonally Adjusted Data

Jobs and employment trends data are often difficult to understand because there are two different ways to look at the data, seasonally or non-seasonally adjusted data.

Seasonal adjustment works to measure and remove the influences of predictable seasonal patterns to reveal how employment and unemployment figures change from month to month. Not seasonally adjusted data retains seasonal employment trends.

Over the course of a year, the labor force size, available jobs and employment rates undergo predictable fluctuations due to seasonal changes in weather, harvests, major holidays, and school schedules. Seasonal adjustment reduces the impact of these changes, making it easier to understand trends. Seasonally adjusted data is best utilized when comparing several months of employment and jobs data, while not seasonally adjusted data is best used to compare over-the-year trends. Seasonally adjusted data are useful for comparisons among states and the nation.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission primarily uses seasonally adjusted data because it provides a more useful and telling picture of Louisiana’s jobs and employment situation.

To view all available employment data, visit Louisiana’s employment homepage at http://www.laworks.net and select Labor Market Information from the top-right menu. Then, select LOIS (Louisiana Occupational Information System) and select Employment and Wage Data listed under Data Trends. To view the BLS Local Area Unemployment Statistics for the state, visit http://data.bls.gov/pdq/querytool.jsp?survey=la. For BLS nonfarm employment data, click here: http://data.bls.gov/pdq/querytool.jsp?survey=sm.

Data Considerations

All data published from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is preliminary and is subject to revision on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. Revised numbers for previous months are available from the BLS databases located on bls.gov. The revised numbers are available upon release of new data.

Resources for Employers and Job Seekers

Job-seekers can explore careers, apply for top-rated jobs and connect with local training providers using Louisiana Star Jobs, the LWC’s free career tool, at http://www.laworks.net/Stars/. Employers looking for workers should visit Louisiana’s employment homepage at http://www.laworks.net. Click on HiRE (Helping Individuals Reach Employment) and create an account allowing access to qualified job seekers.

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