NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana's unemployment rate dropped to 6.9 percent in November as the count of those looking for work dropped to its lowest level in more than two years, the state Workforce Commission said Tuesday.
The jobless rate fell from 7 percent in October and 7.7 percent in November 2010. The figures are adjusted for seasonal variables.
Last month, the number of unemployed dropped to 140,700 from 142,300 in October to reach its lowest level since June 2009. In November 2010, 160,600 Louisiana residents were listed as unemployed. However, those who quit actively looking for work eventually drop off the unemployment count.
But the civilian work force — including those employed and those actively seeking work — rose by 5,100 from October to November.
The labor agency said that without seasonal adjustments, the state gained 6,300 non-farm jobs in November. The tally was 46,700 more than in November 2010.
The national unemployment rate for November was 8.6 percent.
"Louisiana has been adding jobs for well over a year, spurred by growth in the private sector," said Curt Eysink, the Workforce Commission's executive director.
Without seasonal adjustments, the state has gained 47,300 jobs over the past 12 months. The goods-producing sector — including manufacturing, petroleum and construction — gained 12,600 jobs, while private service-providing jobs increased by 34,700. Government employment at all levels dropped 600 jobs, fueled by a 3,500-job drop-off in state employment.
Over the past year, petroleum has added 3,200 jobs and construction increased by 2,400 jobs. Manufacturing has added 7,000 jobs, the state said.
In the service sector, private education and health services gained 18,600 jobs over 12 months, followed by leisure-hospitality with 5,000, financial activities with 4,900 and trade, transportation and utilities with 4,700.
"Across the board, these are very good numbers. It's been a 2.5 percent growth rate, that's extremely good over the past year," said economist Loren Scott, who follows the state's employment picture. "But we have to put in the caveat that we can't quite be sure of these numbers until March when we start comparing the collection procedure."
Since March, the states have had less power with the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics to adjust atypical numbers, meaning a year's worth of data under the new method will have to be gathered before any conclusions can be reached about the effect on the jobs count.
But Scott said that unlike November's jobless rate, which slid as people dropped out of active job hunting, Louisiana's rate went down as the number of people looking for work increased.
"Ours is way more real than the one at the federal level," he said.
Among the state's metropolitan areas:
— New Orleans added 1,400 jobs over the month and 9,000 over the past 12 months.
— Baton Rouge added 1,500 jobs over the month, putting it 500 jobs ahead over 12 months.
— Houma-Thibodaux added 500 jobs in November for a 12-month total of 3,100.
— Lake Charles had a monthly increase of 900 jobs for a 12-month total of 3,000.
— Lafayette dropped 900 jobs in November, but still registered 4,800 more than a year ago.
— Shreveport-Bossier City gained 2,200 jobs in November for a 12-month increase of 2,000.
— Monroe gained 200 jobs in November to register an increase of 400 for the past 12 months.
— Alexandria added 500 jobs in November for a 12-month gain of 700.