Fewer Louisiana workers make new claims for unemployment benefits; continued claims rise

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

The number of people requesting state unemployment benefits rose slightly last week, although the number of new claims fell, the Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday.

Both numbers remain well above what state officials typically would have seen before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Continued claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending Jan. 30 increased to 65,649, compared with the prior week’s total of 64,916. For a pre-pandemic comparison, 16,189 continued claims were filed for the week ending Feb. 1, 2020.

New unemployment insurance claims for the week ending Jan. 30 dropped to 10,376 from the previous week’s total of 12,004. During the week ending Feb. 1, 2020, 2,058 initial claims were filed, the LWC said.

The number of new claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program for workers who don’t normally qualify for state benefits, such as independent contractors, also fell last week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Residents made 4,050 new claims last week compared with 5,142 the week before.

For the week that ended Jan. 16, the most-recent week the federal government has reported, Louisiana workers made 121,768 continued claims for PUA, an increase of 2,880 from the prior week.

The number of state residents filing for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which is for unemployed workers who have exhausted their state benefits, also increased, according to the federal labor department. Workers filed 61,499 PEUC claims during the week that ended Jan. 16, almost 6,500 more than the week before.

Louisiana’s December unemployment rate fell by 1.3 percentage points from November to 6.9%. The unemployment rate fell in all nine of Louisiana’s metro areas, the state Workforce Commission said.

The state added 5,400 private-sector jobs month-to-month, although private sector employment was down 74,300 jobs compared with December 2019.

The state employment and unemployment numbers have not been adjusted to reflect seasonal workforce trends.

December unemployment rates for Louisiana’s nine metro areas, which have not been seasonally adjusted:

• Alexandria: 5.0%, down from 6.0% in November and down from 5.4% in December 2019;

• Baton Rouge: 6.1%, down from 7.2% in November, but up from 4.5% in December 2019;

• Hammond: 8.1%, down from 9.6% in November, but up from 5.6% in December 2019;

• Houma: 5.9%, down from 6.9% in November, but up from 4.5% in December 2019;

• Lafayette: 6.2%, down from 7.3% in November, but up from 4.9% in December 2019;

• Lake Charles: 7.7%, down from 9.7% in November, but up from 4.5% in December 2019;

• Monroe: 5.7%, down from 6.9% in November, but up from 5.6% in December 2019;

• New Orleans: 8.2%, down from 10.0% in November, but up from 4.5% in December 2019;

• Shreveport: 6.6%, down from 8.0% in November, but up from 5.2% in December 2019.