Shared from the 1/31/2017 American Press eEdition



It may be a new report, but it’s the same old story: Lake Charles continues to gain jobs while the state continues to lose them.

Louisiana Workforce Commission’s December report puts Lake Charles right behind Baton Rouge in metro areas with the highest job growth rates for 2016.

It added 1700 over the year, 1300 of which were in construction, in the area’s 66th consecutive month with an over-the-year increase.

The area did lose 1,000 job from November to December, 600 of which were construction jobs. But R.B. Smith, vice president of workforce development at the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, attributed the loss of construction jobs to a normal slowdown in projects during the holidays.

“In the holiday season in particular, your supply lines have just about shut down,” Smith said. “A lot of your construction workers, just out of habit, will lay off in the month of December.”

Smith expects construction jobs to pick back up in the next few months and continue growing in 2017.

Louisiana, on the other hand, gained 1,900 over the month but lost 4,600 over the year, its 17th consecutive month with an over-the-year loss.

These over-the-year losses can largely be attributed to the impact of low oil prices that have halted production in many parts of the state, such as Lafayette and Houma. The lack of work has resulted in layoffs in the manufacturing and the mining and logging sectors.

The state did make notable gains over the year and over the month in the health services sector. Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Ava Dejoie attributed these gains to Gov. John Bel Edward’s Medicaid expansion.

“Louisiana’s healthcare industry continues to break employment records with more and more jobs each month thanks in large part to Gov. Edwards’ expansion of Medicaid,” Dejoie said.

Still, overall, the trend of Lake Charles gaining jobs while the state loses them has held true in 2016.

The progress of local construction projects and the price of oil will determine whether this trend holds true for 2017.


This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the board, whose members are CRYSTAL STEVENSON, JOHN GUIDROZ, EMILY FONTENOT, retired editor JIM BEAM and retired staff writer MIKE JONES.

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