The Baton Rouge metro area saw the second-largest dip in construction jobs in the U.S. between August 2018 and August 2019—a period when construction employment was on the rise in most metro areas, according to a recent analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America.
In terms of job losses, Baton Rouge—which lost 2,600 jobs within the year leading up to August (down 5%)—trails only the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia area of North Carolina, which lost 2,900 jobs during the period. Nationally, however, construction employment grew in 252 out of 358 metro areas, with the Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas, area adding the most jobs (12,400, up 8%).
A continued nationwide labor shortage is prompting the AGC to call for career and technical education funding boosts, comprehensive immigration reform and loosened qualifications for construction students applying for federal Pell Grants.
“Despite the many steps this industry is taking, there are still too many high-paying construction career positions that remain vacant,” says Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of the AGC, in a prepared statement. “Congress and the administration can help put more people into good jobs by investing in school and workforce training programs that expose them to careers in construction.”
In terms of overall construction employment, Baton Rouge currently ranks 345th out of 358 metros, tied with Watertown-Fort Drum, New York, and McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas.
The analysis comes on the heels of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releasing its latest labor force data for 389 metro areas, which shows mixed results for Baton Rouge: While its unemployment rate was lower in August than the previous year, the metro area’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate (4.6%) hovers well above the 3.8% national average.
Generally, local unemployment is down 0.3% from 2018. But it’s happening amid a dwindling civilian labor force, most recently totaling 416,645—down some 1,600 workers from a year ago.