Louisiana payrolls slump in March, reversing February gain
NEW ORLEANS - Payroll employment fell sharply in Louisiana in March, reversing a strong gain in February.
At the same time, a separate survey showed the state's jobless rate fell to 5.7 percent from 5.8 percent in February. The unemployment rate was also below March 2016's level of 6.2 percent.
The surveys usually converge over the long run, but diverged widely in Louisiana in March.
Payrolls fell by 8,500 to 1.98 million, and also fell below year-ago levels, a warning sign of economic weakness in what is many economists' top labor market indicator.
Louisiana's jobless rate is fourth-highest among states, with New Mexico worst at 6.7 percent.
The nationwide rate fell to 4.5 percent in March from February's 4.7 percent.
The U.S. Labor Department released figures Friday, adjusted to cancel out seasonal changes.