Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between September 2018 and September 2019, but Louisiana was not among them, according to an analysis of recent Labor Department data by the Associated General Contractors of America.
Texas added the most construction jobs over the year (52,000 jobs, 7%), followed by California (30,400 jobs, 3.5%), and Arizona (16,500 jobs, 10.%).
Eleven states, however, shed construction jobs over the last 12 months. Louisiana lost the largest number and percentage of construction jobs (-10,600 jobs, -7%). Other states with large job losses include Ohio (-7,600 jobs, -3.4%) and Connecticut (-1,800 jobs, -3.1%).
Construction employment increased in 28 states from August to September, and decreased in 22 states during that same time period, although employment in Washington D.C. stayed level. From August to September, Louisiana lost 700 jobs, or less than 1%.
Association officials said that 80% of construction firms that responded to the association’s recent workforce survey reported having a hard time finding qualified workers to hire. They urged federal leaders to increase funding for career and technical education and allow more immigrants to legally enter the country.
David Helveston, president and CEO of ABC Pelican, says that Louisiana is experiencing a lull in construction, partially because several large industrial projects have wrapped up in the past year, and upcoming projects have yet to begin.
A case in point is the $9.4 billion Formosa Plastics plant to be built in St. James, which has estimated it will employ more than 8,000 construction workers when it begins. That would make up for a large portion of the jobs lost in the past year.
“I think these numbers show that Louisiana isn’t booming like the rest of the country,” Helveston says. “But we are optimistic looking toward the future, and our training center is full at the moment. … There are always ebbs and flows with these major industrial projects.”