Baton Rouge ranked 9th nationally in payroll-to-population ratio by Gallup / The Times Picayune

Just over half of Baton Rouge-area workers were employed at jobs working 30 hours or more during last year, a figure that placed the area among the best for payroll-to-population ratio.

The Baton Rouge metro area is rated as the ninth-best region in the U.S. for its payroll-to-population ratio, according to Gallup, a global consulting and analytics firm.

Also known as employment-to-population, the ratio identifies the area’s percentage of workers employed for at least 30 hours per week, and Baton Rouge’s payroll-to-population ratio is 50.5 percent.

Baton Rouge was one spot ahead of Austin-Round Rock, Texas, which had a 50.4 percent payroll-to-population ratio.

Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa, ranked first, with a 56.5 percent payroll-to-population ratio.

Gallup recently ranked Louisiana 30th in state payroll-to-population for 2014, at 41.9 percent.

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber applauded the payroll-to-population ranking, saying it’s a stronger indicator of employment success.

“With the Capital Region at an all-time high with regard to employment, we’re pleased but not surprised to have made this prestigious list,” said Adam Knapp, president and CEO of BRAC. “Many consultants and economic developers believe the pay to population indicator to be more accurate than the unemployment rate in assessing the health of total employment.”

Although more jobs have come to the area, Baton Rouge’s unemployment rate has risen in recent months, because the number of job seekers has grown faster than the number of jobs available in town.

Baton Rouge’s unemployment rate began to see a consistent increase in March of 2014, when the rate was at 4.3 percent. It continued to rise through December, the most recent figures available, when unemployment was 6.2 percent. The figure was slightly lower than the state average of 6.7 percent for the month, but higher than the national average of 5.6 percent.

The same situation is evident with the state of Louisiana; its economy keeps creating jobs, but can’t keep up with the state’s growing workforce. Louisiana now ties for the sixth-highest jobless rate among the states. The latest unemployment figures show Louisiana’s unemployment rate rose in December for the eighth straight month, to 6.7 percent from 6.5 percent in November.

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