For the third time in four months, preliminary unemployment numbers released by the Louisiana Workforce Commission show Lafayette Parish’s unemployment rate below 5 percent. The parish’s 4.9 percent unemployment for February is down from 5.3 percent in January. The unemployment rate for the Lafayette MSA, Lafayette and St. Martin parishes, was 5.2 percent — the second best in the state. The Houma MSA’s 5 percent unemployment is lowest.

According to LWC February stats, there were 160,700 nonfarm jobs in the Lafayette MSA, an increase of 3,400 jobs from January 2012 and 12,000 jobs from February 2011. Since February 2011, the goods-producing sector has gained 4,100 jobs and the service-providing sector has added 7,900 jobs.

Oil and gas and health care saw the largest gains in employment in the past year: Oil and gas gained 2,100 and the health care sector added 1,800 positions. Other industries saw employment increases ranging from 300 to 1,700 jobs, with jobs in the information sector unchanged.

Louisiana’s preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in February is 7 percent, up from 6.9 percent in January, and the preliminary U.S. unemployment rate remains at 8.3 percent.

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