SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - The announcement that local healthcare powerhouse Willis-Knighton Health System is laying off 55 employees immediately and another 177 through attrition has sent shock waves through the local economy.
That's because Willis-Knighton is the 5th largest employer in the Shreveport-Bossier metro area and the largest private employer.
Many are asking themselves if this layoff is just a "one-off" or a potential harbinger of things to come in the local economy. That has us taking a closer look at the job market.
The unemployment figure from August shows the Shreveport metro area stands at 6-point-1 percent, nearly a full point lower than this time last year, according to the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
The only caveat to that silver lining: There are 3,400 fewer people in the workforce now compared to last year.
The Willis-Knighton layoff announcement also triggered an offer from Louisiana Works called "Rapid Response."
It is an early intervention outplacement service offered to workers affected by major layoffs.
Meanwhile, at the same time, Shreveport's Chamber of Commerce President, Dr. Timothy Magner, told us the area's diverse economy should help mitigate the effects of this health system layoff.
"When you look at some of the growth in manufacturing, services, some distribution, we're starting to see a broader range of companies exploring our marketplace rather than the ones that traditionally. You know, oil and gas and healthcare specifically," explained Dr. Magner.
Jacques Lasseigne, the regional industry coordinator with the local LA Works office said they're just waiting on a response from Willis-Knighton on that rapid response offer.
We reached out to Willis-Knighton for more information about those layoffs but was told no more information will be released at this time.
Speaking of the job market, specifically healthcare, Jessica Carter is the nurse recruiter for University Health Hospital in Shreveport.
She told us they have a wide range of openings and encourages job seekers to check out the Facebook page for University Health Shreveport.