Survey: Louisianans with jobs top 2 million

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More than 2 million Louisianans say they have a job, an all-time high.

That number hit a new peak for the sixth month in a row in March, as the state's unemployment rate held steady from February at 4.5 percent. That tied for the seventh-lowest rate in the nation.

"Because of all we have done to make Louisiana a great place to do business, we have now set another record for the number of people working, exceeding 2 million workers for the first time in Louisiana history," Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a statement.

A separate survey shows payrolls grew slightly from February to March, but remained below the record levels of late 2013. Both sets of figures — adjusted to cancel out normal seasonal changes — were released Friday by the U.S. Labor Department.

Louisiana's unemployment rate was 6.4 percent in March 2013.

The number of unemployed Louisianans remained below 100,000, falling to 93,500 in March. That's the lowest level since July 2008, down from 95,000 in February and 135,000 in March 2013.

Rhode Island had the nation's worst jobless rate, at 8.7 percent, while North Dakota retained the lowest jobless rate at 2.4 percent. Unemployment rates fell in 21 states, rose in 17 and were flat in 12.

The national unemployment rate was flat from February to March at 6.7 percent, but below the 7.5 percent level of March 2013

The unemployment rate is calculated by a survey that asks how many people are looking for a job. A second survey each month asks employers how many people are on their payrolls, a measure many economists use as their top labor market indicator.

Louisiana's nonfarm payrolls rose to 1.95 million in people in March, up 1,000 from February and 11,000 higher than a year ago. However that's down 9,000 from the record-high level seen in October. Louisiana has seen four years of strong payroll growth, with payrolls rising 4.3 percent during that time, outstripping the number of jobs lost during the recession.

Payroll strength was limited in March to the construction and professional and business services sectors. That lines up with tens of billions of dollars' worth of construction projects announced in the state's oil and gas and chemical industries. Payrolls fell in Louisiana's other economic sectors, including trade, transportation and utilities; education and health services; leisure and hospitality; manufacturing; financial activities and government.

The broadest measure of those who are unemployed averaged 12.7 percent in Louisiana during 2013, the most recent figures available. That rate includes not only those counted as jobless in the standard survey, but also people who are looking for work only sporadically, have given up looking, or are working part time because they can't find a full-time job.

Nationwide, that broad measure averaged 13.8 percent during the same time.

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Online: State employment report: http://1.usa.gov/104hKGL

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Follow Jeff Amy at: http://twitter.com/jeffamy

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