La. gains construction jobs

All of Louisiana’s metro areas surveyed in July by the Associated General Contractors of America added construction jobs over the past year, with Lake Charles and Baton Rouge leading the way.

Lake Charles had a 27 percent gain in construction employment, the best among the 339 metro areas surveyed by the AGC during a 12-month period that ended in July. Lake Charles went from 10,600 construction workers in July 2013 to 13,500 in July.

Baton Rouge added 7,900 construction jobs, an 18 percent gain that was good enough to rank the city as the seventh-fastest growing market in the U.S. for new construction jobs.

According to an analysis of federal employment data released Thursday by AGC, there were 51,900 construction workers in the capital region in July, compared to 44,000 in July 2013.

Construction gains in Lake Charles and Baton Rouge have been driven by petrochemical plant expansions. An estimated $84 billion in new construction projects are in the pipeline for the state, with most of the activity being concentrated in Lake Charles and along the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to New Orleans.

Among the other markets in the survey, Houma-Thibodaux went from 5,400 workers in July 2013 to 5,900, a gain of 9 percent. Lafayette added 300 jobs, or 4 percent, to go from 7,000 last year to 7,300. Shreveport-Bossier City had a 200-job gain, or 2 percent, to end last month with 8,300 construction workers. New Orleans added 400 construction jobs to end July with 31,900 workers, or a 1 percent gain.

Nationally, metro Dallas added the largest number of construction jobs over the past year, going from 115,200 in July 2013 to 124,600, a gain of 9,400 jobs.

The AGC said 223 metro areas saw construction gains for the year ending in July, while 44 were stagnant for the year and 72 saw decreases. Steubenville, Ohio, had the biggest decline, dropping by 22 percent, or 400 jobs. Metro Phoenix had the largest total number of lost construction jobs over the year, declining by 4,800, or 5 percent.

Statewide, Louisiana saw construction employment grow by 7 percent, or 9,000 jobs, to finish July with 139,900. That tied with Minnesota and Pennsylvania for sixth place in the states with the biggest construction job gains. Delaware, which added 2,500 jobs or a 13 percent gain, was the fastest-growing state. Florida, Nevada and Utah were tied for second, with each state experiencing 11 percent construction job growth. North Dakota was in fifth place among states, with 10 percent growth.

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