Survey marks job openings

According to a new state Department of Labor survey, job openings in Louisiana were nearly twice as plentiful in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as before the storm.

Statewide, retail salespersons and construction laborers were the two most commonly sought-after openings in the department's annual Job Vacancy Survey. It identifies more than 125-thousand openings at midyear 2006, the most recent quarter for which employer input is available.

At the same time in 2005, state job vacancies were pegged at fewer than 70-thousand.

About one in two vacancies statewide in the report were in metro New Orleans, where the 60-thousand vacancies were led by retail and hotel jobs, followed by construction.

In Baton Rouge, the 22-thousand vacancies in mid-2006 were topped by construction laborers, followed by landscaping and groundskeeping workers, cashiers and secondary school teachers.

Meanwhile, Lafayette's labor market and 19-thousand vacancies reflected different needs: truck drivers and heavy equipment operators were most sought-after, followed by welders and related metal craftsmen, and construction laborers.

The survey underscores what state officials have hammered home frequently after 2005's catastrophic hurricane season: Work is there for those willing to find it.