Hurricane Katrina Causes Unemployment Rate in La. to Double

October 27, 2005

The Louisiana Department of Labor reported that the preliminary September unemployment rate for Louisiana soared to 11.5 percent after Hurricane Katrina, marking the highest unemployment rate in the state since January of 1987. The revised August unemployment rate was 5.8 percent while the September 2004 rate was 5.7 percent.

Seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment at the statewide level lost 251,000 workers over the month because of the devastation in the New Orleans Metropolitan Statistical Area caused by Hurricane Katrina. September’s nonfarm employment level of 1,684,600 was the lowest since November 1993.

“On a positive note,” Secretary of Labor John Warner Smith said, “five of eight reporting areas did experience job growth with only New Orleans losing employment. We encourage businesses seeking to rebuild and people looking for work to participate in labor department job fairs and go to our Web site,”

The state’s civilian labor force in September was 1,980,140 down from 2,121,577 in August 2005. The total number of employed in September decreased to 1,753,044 down from 1,999,072 in August.

Louisiana’s number of unemployed for September was 227,096 up from 122,505 for the previous month. The state’s unemployment rate increased from 5.8 percent to 11.5 percent in September, and was above the September 2004 rate of 5.7 percent.

The comparable U.S. unemployment rate increased two tenths of a point to 5.1 percent for September, an increase from the August revised rate of 4.9 percent.

Unadjusted unemployment rates compare parishes and metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) to the state’s unemployment rate. The September 2005 unadjusted unemployment rate for Louisiana was 11.4 percent, up from the revised August 2005 rate of 6.0 percent.

The unemployment rates for the MSAs were: Alexandria, 9.1 percent, up from 6.4 percent in August; Baton Rouge, 11.9, up from 6.0; Houma, 10.8, up from 4.8; Lafayette, 9.4, up from 4.7; Lake Charles, 8.5, up from 5.7; Monroe, 8.5, up from 6.2; New Orleans, 14.8, up from 5.8; and Shreveport-Bossier City, 7.9, up from 6.1 last month.

Preliminary seasonally adjusted statewide total nonfarm employment for September 2005 was 1,684,600 compared to 1,935,600 for the revised August 2005 figure, for a decrease of 251,000 workers.

The sector breakdown was as follows: natural resources and mining, 45,400 employed in September, up from 44,700 employed in August; construction, 91,500, down from 117,100; manufacturing, 139,000, down from 149,500; trade, transportation, and utilities, 336,800, down from 386,000; information, 25,400, down from 28,700; financial activities, 92,300, down from 103,600; professional and business services, 151,200, down from 184,600; educational and health services, 198,600, down from 257,900; leisure and hospitality, 169,400, down from 207,100; other services, 55,900, down from 72,500; and government, 379,100, down from the revised August figure of 383,900.

For more detailed information on the September 2005 employment data for Louisiana, visit the Web site at, scroll over the tab at the top of the page for Labor Market Information, click on Publications & Reports, and select LMI Bulletin.

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