New Orleans Area Posts Lowest Jobless Rate

The New Orleans area tied with Washington, D.C., in posting the lowest jobless rate among the nation’s largest metro areas in November, according to data released Tuesday. The metropolitan region that includes New Orleans, Metairie and Kenner posted an unemployment rate of 6.1 percent, the same as that of the Washington area, which includes the cities of Arlington and Alexandria, Va. The rate was several points below the national average of 9.4 percent, the report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. Department of Labor showed. The metro area’s November unemployment rate, first reported at the end of December, declined from October’s rate of 6.8 percent. The unemployment rate was up, however, from the 5.1 percent posted in November 2008. Still, the data suggest that it was easier to find work in New Orleans than almost anywhere else in the country in November. Jobs were especially plentiful in the retail sector in November, said Patty Lopez Granier, a research analyst for the Louisiana Workforce Commission. “Looking at the payroll data, we see that retail trade added 800 jobs over the month. They had the second-highest job gains over all the (metropolitan areas),” Granier said. “We’ve seen that employment has picked up. These are good signs that employers are hiring and that people are going to the stores and making purchases.” New Orleans and the Washington, D.C., area were followed on the list by Oklahoma City, which had an unemployment rate of 6.4 percent. At the other end, the Detroit metro area posted the highest unemployment rate for the month: 15.4 percent. Detroit was followed by the San Bernardino, Calif., area at 14.2 percent. Although the New Orleans area posted the lowest unemployment rate among the 49 major metropolitan areas, several smaller areas, including the Houma-Bayou Cane-Thibodaux region, actually had lower rates. The Houma metropolitan area had an unemployment rate of 4.6 percent, the ninth lowest of all metro areas. “This is great news not just for the New Orleans and Houma areas, but for the state as a whole,” Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Curt Eysink said in a statement. “These rankings are further evidence that our economy is performing strongly in the face of national economic challenges.”