The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently reported that America gained 2.5 million jobs in the month of May, leaving many in Louisiana wondering how that would translate to the state’s economy. This morning’s BLS report showed Louisiana gaining almost 33,000 jobs in May, leading to a decline in the unemployment rate of 1.8 percent. The state’s unemployment rate now sits at 13.3 percent.

The Leisure and Hospitality sector, which had been responsible for more than 40 percent of all job losses, experienced the largest jobs gains, with 15,000 people coming back to work. Education and health services also added nearly 12,000 jobs. Every other sector measured by the BLS showed a growth in employment other than government, which lost 5,600 jobs.

These jobs gains are certainly are a positive, especially when many thought the job losses would continue. But the week-by-week unemployment claim numbers show our economy is still sputtering.

More than 23,000 Louisianans filed for unemployment for the week ending June 13, roughly the same number that filed for the week ending May 23. Since that time, the number of new claims has only varied slightly and remains more than 10 times higher than the average rate.

On a somewhat positive note, the number of Louisianans on unemployment insurance also continues to dip lower than 300,000. However, the pace of people leaving unemployment to return to work has slowed considerably.

While it’s certainly good that Louisiana gained nearly 33,000 jobs in May, the nation gained 2.5 million jobs at a time when more losses were expected, these latest figures indicate the bounce back may not be as swift for Louisiana.

These numbers suggest there is still much to be done to encourage the return of jobs and opportunity to Louisiana. This includes creating a more fair and simplified tax system, rooting out abuse in our broken legal system, and continuing to remove needless government hurdles stifling opportunity for our state’s working families.

We can get there, but we must demand our leaders to make the policy reforms necessary to right the ship and create a better, stronger Louisiana. We can’t afford to allow the status quo to dictate our direction any longer.