As the Louisiana Legislative Session is well underway, many of the most important policies that bring jobs to Louisiana are under consideration. These debates are only more essential as the latest state job report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed Louisiana falling behind the rest of the nation.

While there are national concerns with the economy, particularly soaring inflation, the national job numbers continue to improve. The national average unemployment rate went down to 3.6 percent, the lowest since January of 2020. But Louisiana has not kept pace, and the state unemployment rate sits at 4.2 percent. This is a reversal from earlier trends when the Louisiana unemployment rate more closely mirrored the national average.

Despite a concerning direction for the unemployment rate, there are some positive signs for Louisiana. The civilian labor force, classified as those working or actively looking for work, increased by over 10,000 from February to March. This means that the prospects of finding a job with decent wages are encouraging people to get back on the job hunt.

Despite this, no new net jobs were added between February and March. This seems to suggest that while Louisianans are actively looking to get back to work, there is a mismatch between available jobs and workers.

If Louisiana wants to ride the current wave of economic growth, policymakers will need to address some of the biggest barriers to work in our state. Louisiana, for example, has exceptionally strict occupational licensing laws, which often erect excessive hurdles in the form of fees, tests, and training requirements.

With economic uncertainty on the horizon, getting people back to work in Louisiana should be a top priority. Breaking down the barriers that prevent jobs and opportunity in Louisiana is a key component of progress in this area.