The most recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed the U.S. economy is about halfway to recovery. Meanwhile, Louisiana job numbers are still falling well behind the rest of the nation. Overall, the report wasn’t surprising, as it revealed employment rose by 1.4 million in the month of August while the unemployment rate fell to 8.4 percent.

It appears the job market is continuing on its slow and steady recovery trajectory following months of devastation resulting from shutdown mandates nationwide. Some particularly positive news is the fact that the number of people on temporary layoffs decreased by 3.1 million. The largest increase in employment this month occurred in the Government sector. The 344,000 workers added to that sector this month is mostly due to the recent hiring of U.S. census workers.

Other notable gains, especially for the state of Louisiana, include the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 174,000 jobs around the country. The vast majority of those hired were in food services and bars, which reflects the fact that many restaurants are returning to full capacity and bars are reopening (except in Louisiana, of course). Overall, about half of the 22 million American jobs that were lost during the pandemic have returned.

Not all the news is positive, however, as the number of people who permanently lost their jobs increased to 3.4 million. Many of these losses are from businesses who were forced to shut their doors permanently.

In the Pelican State, the number of Louisianans filing for unemployment has risen dramatically over the past two weeks. The number of Louisianans claiming unemployment for the first time rose to more than 20,000 for the first time since July. These figures show that it’s unlikely things will get back to normal anytime in the near future.

The downward trend of Louisianans on unemployment insurance has also slowed dramatically after the ending of enhanced unemployment benefits at the beginning of August led to the initial decrease. There are currently 232,000 Louisiana citizens collecting unemployment benefits. This leaves the state’s insured unemployment rate at 13.2 percent, the seventh highest in the nation. The insured unemployment rate is defined as the number of people on unemployment divided by the labor force (or total people working or looking for a job).

All of these negative stats make one thing abundantly clear – Louisiana will have to do more to get its economy back on track so its citizens can support themselves and their families. In addition to entering Phase 3 and allowing businesses to reopen at greater capacities, state leaders should take this opportunity to pass as many solutions to get Louisiana working as possible. We must kickstart the return of jobs and opportunity to our state. Every day we delay makes the recovery more difficult.