Louisiana's unemployment rate rose in December. Here's what you should know

William Taylor Potter
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Louisiana’s monthly unemployment rate rose for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in December, though the rate still remains near record-low levels.

Here’s what you need to know about the state’s unemployment situation.

What was the unemployment rate in December?

The state’s unemployment rate rose to 3.5% in December from 3.3% in November, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Louisiana had not seen its seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate increase from month-to-month since March and April 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping across the state.

Back then, the rate rose from 6.8% in March to 13.5% in April. Ever since then, the rate has generally been falling — until December 2022.

Louisiana:More than 100,000 Louisiana workers left jobs in November, among the highest in U.S.

But December’s unemployment rate is still low, historically speaking. It was the lowest ever recorded for the month of December.

“We have added more than 233,000 jobs since the worst of the pandemic,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards in a statement. “My administration has done hard, bipartisan work to grow and diversify our economy, and we are seeing the fruits of our labor. But more than that, these historic numbers are a credit to the strength and skill of our people, who have come back remarkably strong from a global pandemic and two devastating hurricane seasons.”

How does Louisiana compare to other states?

Louisiana’s unemployment rate was right on par with the national average in December. According to the BLS, most states saw unemployment stay the same while seven states saw unemployment rise. Four states saw unemployment fall.

Utah had the lowest unemployment rate with 2.2%. Nevada had the highest with 5.2%.

Do more people have jobs in Louisiana?

Louisiana has seen a substantial increase in job turnover from recent years, seeing record-high levels of workers quitting, hirings and job openings over the course of 2022. In December, Louisiana's labor force participation rate — the percentage of working-age people that are employed or actively looking for a job — rose for the first time in several months.

Remote work in the U.S.:Two Louisiana cities listed in the top 10 for remote work in the U.S.

The participation rate in December was 58.5%, up from 58.3% in November. It was the first month-to-month increase since April to May of 2022.

The state had 1.94 million employed workers in December, which is the highest since March 2020, when the pandemic began impacting the state’s workforce.

Why should we watch the unemployment rate?

Many economists have sounded the alarm on a potential recession in 2023, and high and persistent unemployment is a typical feature of a recession. It’s not a given that the nation will face a recession this year — Goldman Sachs said early this month that it had a 35% change, while the consensus was around 65% — but if one occurs, Louisiana will likely see its unemployment tick up.