FILE - LA Tropical Storm Barry

Barry Williams talks to a friend on his smartphone as he wades through storm surge July 13, 2019, from Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville, Louisiana.

Louisiana unemployment rate falls; remains above national average

Louisiana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for June was 4.3 percent, the lowest since January 2008, according to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration.

That's higher than the national rate, which was 3.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says.

“At 4.3 percent, our unemployment rate continues to be the lowest in 11 years, which is a testament to the continued strength of our economy,” Edwards said in a prepared statement. “This month, we also showed the largest unemployment decline since last year of any state.”

BLS estimates show Louisiana’s civilian labor force fell year-over-year, from 2,104,635 to 2,097,467, while nonfarm payroll fell from 1.981 million to 1.979 million.

“There are fewer people working in Louisiana today than a year ago,” the Louisiana GOP said in a tweet. “The unemployment rate went down because people are leaving the state.”

Third Louisiana Methanex plant announced

Methanex, which has two existing plants in Geismar, Louisiana, has announced plans to build a third.

The project, worth up to $1.4 billion, would bring the company’s overall investment to more than $2.5 billion. The plant is expected to create 62 new direct jobs with an average salary of $80,000, Gov. john Bel Edwards office says, and spur creation of an estimated 301 indirect jobs.

Methanex is the world’s largest supplier of methanol, which is found in various products such as plastic bottles, synthetic fibers and fuel.

Thirty-five Barry rescues reported

There were 35 rescues of people endangered by Tropical Storm/Hurricane Barry reported to the state’s Emergency Operations Center, said Mike Steele, communications director for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. That total does not include hospital or nursing home evacuees, which were included in some prior reports.

In a briefing shortly after the storm, Gov. John Bel Edwards said 48 people were evacuated from Iberia Medical Center after the facility lost power. No confirmed weather-related deaths caused by Barry were reported, Edwards said.

Data and analytics company estimates Barry damage between $500 million to $900 million

Tropical Storm/Hurricane Barry caused between $500 million and $900 million, according to an estimate by CoreLogic, a real estate data and analytics company.

Flood loss for residential and commercial properties in Louisiana is estimated to be between $200 million and $400 million including both storm surge and inland flooding. Insured flood loss from private insurers is estimated at less than $100 million. Wind losses are estimated to be an additional $300 million to $500 million.

Insured flood and wind losses, excluding National Flood Insurance Program losses, are between $300 million and $600 million, the firm’s report says. Insured residential and commercial flood loss covered by the NFIP is estimated to be between $100 million and $200 million. Uninsured flood loss is estimated to be approximately $100 million.

AT&T workers in Louisiana authorize strike

Members of the Communications Workers of America who work for AT&T Southeast have voted to authorize a strike, the union announced Friday.

The contract, set to expire Aug. 3, covers more than 20,000 wireline employees in Louisiana, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and St. Croix, the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Negotiations are ongoing, and the company expressed confidence that an agreement would be reached.

Staff Writer

David Jacobs is a Baton Rouge-based award-winning journalist who has written about government, politics, business and culture in Louisiana for almost 15 years. He joined The Center Square in 2018.