As Louisianans celebrate a vastly different kind of Mardi Gras this year, the latest economic data shows that COVID-19 has resulted in far more than cancelled parades. State and local government officials’ response to the pandemic has also led to significant job losses.

Louisiana’s new economic data shows that while the number of Louisianans on unemployment insurance had been dropping for quite some time, the number now appears stuck at around 60,000. This is nearly five times higher than it was a year ago.

And these numbers are unlikely to change anytime soon. With the vaccine rollout going slower than expected, government shutdown policies are once again taking their toll. In New Orleans, more than 20,000 more people are unemployed than a year ago. Despite these declining job numbers, Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued an order forcing the closure of many bars and restaurants for Mardi Gras. It’s clear that policies like these are destroying livelihoods and small enterprises across the city.

Nationally, the first 2021 jobs report from Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) portrays a stalling economy, with few signs of changing anytime soon.

The number of new payroll jobs added in January was only 49,000, with only 6,000 of those jobs coming to the private sector. The leisure and hospitality sector continues to struggle, as it lost more than 60,000 jobs in January, building on the more than half-a-million losses in December. These figures are disappointing, especially as our state continues to count on this industry for so many jobs.

With these sorts of overall job numbers, it’s not a shock that far too many Americans have given up on the job hunt entirely.

The BLS also reports that the number of Americans who want a job but aren’t currently looking for one sits at seven million. Meanwhile 14.8 million Americans either didn’t work or worked fewer hours, because their employers either lost their business or closed temporarily. America is still missing 10 million jobs compared to January 2020.

All of these economic numbers underscore a simple fact for Louisiana – if state and local officials want to improve conditions here, they need to end their shutdown approach and enact major policy reforms that will get citizens back to work while encouraging job creation.