State and local areas are feeling the economic impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, evidenced by recently released employment figures. The New Orleans metro area lost more than 200,000 jobs between October 2004 and October 2005 – a 33 percent decrease – according to recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics . The Gulfport/Biloxi metro area experienced a 24 percent loss over the same period.

In its monthly Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment report , the Bureau shows an 11 percent drop in employment for the state of Louisiana compared to a year earlier.

Of the nine areas in the country with the highest unemployment rates for the month, seven were affected by Hurricanes Katrina and/or Rita, according to the report. The Gulfport/Biloxi area had the highest jobless rate in the nation – 23.5 percent – followed by El Centro, California at 17.6 percent, Pascagoula, Mississippi at 16.6 percent, and Lake Charles, Louisiana at 16.2 percent.

The lowest unemployment rate in the country was reported for Fargo, North Dakota .