ALAN SAYRENEW ORLEANS (AP) â¿¿ Louisiana added 47,400 non-farm jobs in 2011 as the state posted a 2.5 percent growth rate during a year when the national economy continued a slow recovery from the Great Recession, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday. The state's seasonally adjusted jobless rate fell to 6.8 percent in December from 6.9 percent in November and 7.7 percent in December 2010. But job growth slowed at the end of the year. Without seasonal adjustments, the number of non-farm jobs was unchanged from November to December. The number of people employed or actively seeking work in Louisiana â¿¿ the civilian labor force â¿¿ fell by 800 over the month and 42,100 over the year. Discouraged job-hunters who quit actively seeking employment drop out of that count. The number of people listed officially as unemployed fell by 400 in December and dropped by 19,800 over 2011, the BLS said. Almost all job categories â¿¿ except for construction and government â¿¿ grew in Louisiana in 2011. Without seasonal adjustments, goods-producing jobs â¿¿ including petroleum, construction and manufacturing â¿¿ rose by 9,700 over the year, including a jump of 7,000 jobs in manufacturing. Petroleum added 3,900 jobs, but construction shed 1,200 jobs. The service-providing sector added 37,700 jobs, led by private education and health care with 18,400. Trade, transportation and utilities rose by 6,900 jobs, followed by leisure-hospitality with 6,000 jobs and financial activities with 4,900 jobs. In a continuation of a national trend, government jobs at all levels in Louisiana fell by 800 over the year, figures show. Barry Thompson, director of the Tulane University career center, said surveys of graduates show the hottest employment sectors include health care, education, nonprofit organizations, banking and finance and government employment with an international flair â¿¿ such as with the State Department, the FBI and the CIA. About 30 percent of Tulane's graduates are going on to graduate school, he said.
"None of these surprise me," he said.Angela Hicks, 24, a December education graduate from Southeastern Louisiana University, is spending most of her time getting her resume out to school districts for a job teaching elementary school. In the meantime, she's waiting to hear back on an application with a bank and has gotten on a substitute teaching list in St. Charles Parish. She's at a bit of a disadvantage, having graduated in the middle of a public school year. "I'm putting out the applications, but I've been unable to attend any jobs fairs," she said. "That'll happen when they get closer to knowing what jobs they'll have." Thompson said the career center has seen the length of the average successful job hunt increase from 3-6 months to 6-12 months. But at the same time, Tulane has noted a successful search is shorter for students who actively network themselves to potential employers. The job hunt remains frustrating for others. Marilyn Alm, 59, of New Orleans, worked at Borders for 17 years before the book-seller collapsed and closed last year. Since then, she said, she's been unable to find a job that fits her interests and background, which includes degrees in special education, psychology and learning disabilities and stints in teaching and private tutoring. Alm also said she's dealing with physical handicaps, which she sees as hurting her job prospects. "If an employer looks at me having physical limitations and they have five other people with the same qualifications and no physical limitations, that's where they're going to go," she said. The end of U.S. military involvement in the Middle East also is adding to the stack of job-seekers. Ted Daywalt, president of the Veterans of Foreign Wars' VetJobs, which runs an Internet job posting board for veterans, said veterans who have fulfilled their military obligations have a clear advantage over those still in the reserves and National Guard. The reason: the large number of reserve and guard units called into active service during the decade-long conflict, he said.
Around 2007, VetJobs' research of BLS figures showed a rapidly escalating unemployment rate for guard members and reservists, versus veterans who were fully out of the service, he said. He said he expects that trend to continue â¿¿ and perhaps get worse."That was private business saying you can't take my most valuable asset â¿¿ human capital â¿¿ for 12 months," Daywalt said. "Businesses can't run efficiently when their employees are taken away for 12 to 24 months, especially when you are a small business." Last month, 37 states and the District of Columbia posted jobless rate decreases, three posted increases and 10 were unchanged. Over the year, 46 states saw unemployment rate decreases while the rate went up in four states and the District of Columbia.