by Eric Peterson, Director of Policy

As 2020 winds down, I can’t help but reflect on the difficulties we’ve all experienced, both on the health and economic fronts, throughout this year. Fortunately, as a vaccine appears within reach, so too is a return to a strong economy.

The latest jobs release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, (BLS) reported that 245,00 jobs were added to the economy in November, decreasing the unemployment rate to 6.7 percent. While there are still 4.9 million more Americans unemployed now than before the pandemic, the unemployment rate remains nearly eight points lower than it was at the height of the pandemic.

Some of the largest gains in employment were in the transportation and warehousing sectors, with 145,000 jobs added. As e-commerce becomes more important than ever before, it is providing more jobs to Americans than ever before.

The Louisiana economy has experienced similar improvements during this time. After a strange spike in unemployment claims, possibly due to fraud, initial unemployment claims continue to hold steady at around 10,000. What’s more positive is that the number of Louisianans on unemployment insurance continues to quickly decline. Approximately 10,000 fewer Louisianans are on unemployment insurance compared to the previous week, and almost 30,000 fewer are on it compared to the last week in October.

That said, there is certainly more that needs to be done to return Louisianans to work and get economy back on track.  When comparing the October 2019 to October 2020 numbers, the state has 112,000 fewer jobs in its major metropolitan areas. Over half of those job losses have occurred in New Orleans. The cancelation of Mardi Gras will almost certainly make this trend even worse for the Crescent City in the coming months.

Louisiana state and local leaders should look to solutions to speed up this recovery. From enacting bold policies like tax reform to loosening the regulatory burdens placed on entrepreneurs, there are many avenues available to encourage the return of jobs and opportunity for hard-working Louisianans.