Not all of New Orleans seeing same nationwide record low unemployment rate

Not all of New Orleans seeing same nationwide record low unemployment rate
FOX 8 Photo/FILE

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - While the nation is seeing its lowest unemployment rate since 2000, not all of New Orleans is celebrating a similar milestone.

2017 was a record-setting year for New Orleans tourism, which translates into jobs. And if 2018 Jazz Fest is any indication, that trend will continue. However, statewide, the Louisiana Workforce Commission says construction jobs are the fastest-growing in the state.

Greater New Orleans Inc. President Michael Hecht says this means opportunities to put people to work within the city.

"We fully expect our labor market to stay tight and our unemployment rate to stay low for the next few years," he said.

Hecht says historically, New Orleans' unemployment rates are opposite the national trends. But at 4.0, the lowest since early 2008, New Orleans' current unemployment rate reflects the national average. Hecht attributes that to the city's expanding job portfolio.

"It's going to be a market which is going to be a buyers' market for workers; we're going to need blue collar, white collar across Louisiana," Hecht said.

However, in a state where oil and gas still help drive the economy, the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association's Gifford Briggs says when the national unemployment rates go down, theirs go up.

"The problem is we've seen an exodus in the Gulf of Mexico, and we've seen a transition in investment dollars that isn't including Louisiana, and we're not being the beneficiaries of the recovering we're seeing," Briggs said.

Which, in his eyes, is unnerving for those in the Louisiana oil and gas industry.

An important point to distinguish, the unemployment rate in New Orleans is not going down because of a declining labor force. According to GNO Inc., the workforce has actually grown by 2 percent, its highest since July 2016.

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