Louisiana’s August jobs report was underwhelming even with the lowered expectations due to the national jobs report which missed expectation by more than half a million jobs.

Although, Louisiana’s unemployment rate dropped from 6.6 to 6.2, the reason for this decrease was not because people were finding jobs. Instead, the decrease was driven by people  giving up and leaving the labor market all together. Louisiana’s civilian labor force decreased by 3,400 people and is now 30,000 people lower than it was in August of 2020. The decline in the civilian labor force is almost  as responsible for the decrease in the unemployment rate as people actually finding work. For every ten people returning to work in Louisiana, seven have left the labor market altogether.

This troubling trend didn’t get any better in August. Although the largest gains in employment were in the leisure and hospitality sector, Louisiana has only added 1,900 jobs since July.  The largest decreases in jobs were in the education and health services industries, but the shifts in employment in all sectors were small given that the overall employment numbers barely moved.

While the August job numbers are concerning enough on their own, they are likely to be worse next month due to the impact of Hurricane Ida. The Department of Labor has already reported that the number of weekly unemployment claims increased significantly during the first two weeks of September. This increase is almost certainly due to the storm.

With such bad economic news, what can Louisianans do to turn the situation around? While there is little to be done to mitigate the economic damage caused by a natural disaster, Louisianans will have the opportunity to reform the Louisiana tax code in the upcoming election. Louisiana’s current tax code is over complex and a deterrent to job creation in our state. By reforming our tax code, we will increase job growth and opportunities for Louisiana families and given the shape our state’s economy is in, it will need all the help it can get.