Sluggish growth in the industrial sector is preventing the number of Louisiana construction jobs from bouncing back to their pre-pandemic levels, though that might be about to change, says Ken Naquin, CEO of the Louisiana Association of General Contractors.
From February 2020—the month before the pandemic caused projects to be halted or canceled—to last month, construction employment decreased in 32 states and increased in 18 along with Washington, D.C., according to the national AGC. Louisiana was down 19,800 jobs, or 14.5%, the biggest dip by percentage in the nation, the AGC reported.
“If some of the things we’re hearing about up and down the river come to pass, I think those numbers will turn around,” Naquin says.
Capital Region petrochemical plants are expected to go ahead next year with maintenance and turnaround work that was put on the back burner due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance CEO Connie Fabré says. While that doesn’t represent new construction, that work will require construction workers, Naquin notes.
While industrial/petrochemical construction has not recovered, infrastructure and commercial building have added jobs recently, Naquin says. And as additional state and federal dollars are poured into infrastructure, the resulting improvements could spur additional commercial investment, he notes.