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One year after pandemic low point, Louisiana has added 127,400 jobs, officials estimate

Louisiana had about 1,837,000 residents working in nonfarm jobs in April, according to preliminary data adjusted for seasonal workforce trends the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission said the data indicated the state has added about 127,400 jobs since the pandemic low point of April 2020. The unemployment rate fell from 13.1% to 7.4% during that time, according to the LWC.

Leisure and hospitality has gained about 62,400 jobs over the past year, more than any other business sector, the LWC said.

The state is projected to gain almost 71,000 jobs over the next four quarters, according to Gary Wagner, a business economist at UL-Lafayette who compiles a quarterly economic outlook report. About 45% of COVID-19-related job losses have been recovered, according to his latest report.

Insurance commissioner: Consumer hurricane complaints yield $41M

The Louisiana Department of Insurance has received 1,497 complaints concerning the three hurricanes that hit the state last year and recovered more than $41 million on behalf of those consumers as of April 30, Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said.

Hurricane Laura accounted for $37.8 million of that total. Consumers have accused insurers of delaying payment for valid claims and not paying enough to satisfy their claims.

About 77% of complaints relate to homeowner policies. State Farm has racked up the most homeowner complaints with 275, though the company has a below-average “complaint index” once its large market share is taken into account, according to the insurance department.

New airline launches $6.6M, 261-job operations center at New Orleans airport

Breeze Airways, a newly launched airline, plans to create an operations base at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, government and company officials announced Friday.

The company expects to invest $6.6 million and employ 261 people with an average salary of $65,000 plus benefits.

Breeze plans direct flights between New Orleans and Charleston, South Carolina; Louisville, Kentucky; Bentonville/Fayetteville, Arkansas; Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma; Akron/Canton and Columbus, Ohio; and Huntsville, Alabama. The airline will launch its first flights to Charleston starting July 8, with other connections launching July 15 and 16, officials said.

Staff Reporter

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.