Baton Rouge sees nation’s largest drop in construction jobs over past year

    Baton Rouge posted the largest construction job losses in the nation over the past year, but the construction lull, say local economists, should reverse soon with some $32 billion in projects lined up for Louisiana through 2022

    Baton Rouge’s construction jobs dipped by nearly 5,000 positions, a 9% decrease from July 2018 to July 2019, according to an analysis released Wednesday by the Associated General Contractors of America. Second to the Capital City, was the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia metro in North and South Carolina, which lost 3,100 construction jobs, a 5% drop.

    Baton Rouge is currently coming down from historic levels of construction spending in energy manufacturing from 2014 to 2018, says Greg Upton, assistant professor of research at LSU’s Center for Energy Studies. And while construction slowed in the second half of 2018 and this year, multiple projects expected to break ground starting next year should boost construction job numbers.

    “I think construction employment will pick up over the next year or two, but companies won’t make these investments forever,” Upton says, adding that the figures released this morning are estimates and he expects them to be adjusted. “Eventually this boom will end.”

    Louisiana is also in the running for additional investment, Upton says, though that’s being threatened by President Donald Trump and China’s trade war. 

    “If the U.S. loses access to international markets, that will make it harder for projects to move forward, and if it happens, that will be really bad for Louisiana,” Upton says. “That could literally put us in a recession.”

    Last month, Louisiana was named as the No. 1 loser in construction jobs in the nation. The state lost 12,300 jobs, an 8% drop, over the past year. Louisiana was one of eight states that lost construction jobs over the period, and the only one located in the South.

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