Lafayette job market among the nation’s most at risk

The gist: Data projections by the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank rank Lafayette among the areas at highest risk for substantial joblessness in the country. Among the top 150 largest metro areas in the country, Lafayette ranked 20th, ahead of New Orleans, Shreveport and Baton Rouge.

51.75% of jobs in the Lafayette MSA are at high risk of unemployment. That’s compared to Louisiana’s average of 50.7%, which ranked 8th out of all 50 states. The types of jobs said to be “high risk” for unemployment are those most impacted by the stay-at-home orders like food service, sales, manufacturing and on-site installation and repair.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean that Lafayette has to lose more jobs. “These figures merely provide an estimate of workers at risk,” says UL economist Gary Wagner. “We have some control over our economic future by diligently practicing social distancing to control the spread.”

The early returns on unemployment are matching the Fed’s projections. Here’s how new unemployment claims have compared nationally vs. in the Lafayette metro over the last three weeks:

NationalLafayette MSA
Labor force164.6 million210,614
New Unemployment claims17 million25,494
Increase in unemployment %10.3%12.1%

All of Louisiana is vulnerable, according to the data. Shreveport ranked 26th, Baton Rouge 29th and New Orleans 52nd.

“Regions of the country that are manufacturing- and hospitality-intensive, which are sectors where you have more direct human interaction, are likely to be more vulnerable and these data from the St. Louis Fed bear that out,” Wagner says.