Like the rest of the state, the industries in Louisiana’s Acadiana region were hit particularly hard since the COVID-19 pandemic forced employment rates to plummet, but according to this article from The Daily Advertiser that details how Acadiana’s industries are doing two years later, some are reportedly exceeding their pre-COVID employment levels.
Just before COVID-19 was spread throughout Louisiana, the Lafayette Metropolitan Statistical Area had reported 204,500 total workers in February 2020. One month later in March 2020, employment dropped 1% and then an additional 10.7% in April 2020, which was the lowest mark in employment in the state since January 2000. Even in 2008 during the Great Recession and the recession of the early 2000s, the Lafayette area had never dropped below 190,000 workers. Then, after COVID-19 hit the area, the metro area has 181,400 workers as of April 2020.
In the two years following the pandemic’s onset, the Acadiana region, like the rest of the state and country, had benefited from federal stimulus packages and has seen efforts made in employment recovery. Despite this, challenges still remain as some industries continue to struggle to bounce back and businesses have to begin looking at and adopting new methods to attract workers. All in all, data was recently released by the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that four distinct areas in the Lafayette Metro Area are above their pre-pandemic employment levels.
Ava Cates, Secretary of the Louisiana Workforce Commission, said the following on the encouraging data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “these numbers show strong, stable growth after a tough couple of years dealing with COVID-19. They show Louisianans are getting back to work in record numbers. If Louisianans are known for one thing it’s their resiliency and that’s what’s clear here.”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics breaks all non-farming employment data into 11 total industries:
- Education & Health services
- Financial Activities
- Leisure & Hospitality
- Mining & Logging
- Other Services
- Professional & Business Services
- Trade (including transportation & utilities)
According to the 2022-released data, the Lafayette Metropolitan Statistical Area has pre-pandemic employment levels in the industries of Construction; Information; Leisure & Hospitality; and Education & Health Services. Despite the fact that the article attributes these rising employment levels to the fact that the area has transitioned away from being solely reliant on oil and gas, the numbers are encouraging.
This is because the local economic development leaders have heavily focused on the Information and Education & Health Services sectors in the last several years. For instance, the information industry, which includes fields such as data processing and telecommunications, had a reported 2,200 jobs in the metro area in March 2020. One month later, the information industry lost 200 jobs, which is approximately 9% by April 2020. Afterward, the employment levels stayed fairly even until March 2021; now it’s reported that between March 2021 and February 2022, the industry has gained 500 jobs, giving the Information sector a net positive gain of 300 jobs since the pandemic began.
A similar trend can be seen in the Education & Health Services sector, which also saw a new positive gain of 300 jobs since the pandemic began. Similarly, the Leisure & Hospitality sector was among those hit particularly hard in the early months of the pandemic. From just March 2020 to April 2020 alone, the industry went from 20,900 jobs to 13,000 jobs, detailing a loss of 37.8%. Now, as of the February 2022 sata, the industry is up to 21,600 jobs, a net gain of approximately 700 since the pandemic started.
Encouraging data such as the employment level increases in the sectors listed above are needed in times like these.Troy Wayman, president and CEO of One Acadiana commented on these early encouraging statistics by saying, “the Lafayette MSA is still in recovery mode following the economic downturn brought on by COVID-19, with total MSA employment numbers still 2.9% lower than pre-COVID employment. Fortunately, IT, education, healthcare, and hospitality employment numbers are up from February 2020, with hospitality seeing modest job growth at 1.9%, according to the latest data, which covers February of this year.”
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