LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -The Associated General Contractors say the construction industry is hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and that it’s going to be worse for April than it was in March.
The AGC says March of 2020, compared to last March, the Lake area is down 4600 construction jobs. That’s the highest metro area in the country, even more than New York City, which is down 3500 jobs. In large part, Lake Charles’ job loss from this year to last is largely due to major industrial jobs finishing or nearing completion-- still:
“The pandemic has had a sudden and severe impact on the construction community in Louisiana and across the country,” said Brian Turmail, national AGC spokesman.
The AGC in Louisiana held a webinar to discuss jobs in Louisiana. Turmail says their chief economist says infrastructure construction is part of the solution.
"A prolonged slump in construction employment is not a foregone conclusion. The president and congressional leaders have made it clear they believe the best way to revive our economy is through rebuilding aging infrastructure," said Turmail, providing the findings of their chief economist.
AGC chief Ken Naquin says boosting state and federal funding for infrastructure would put many back to work.
"Increased investment in infrastructure puts people back to work. Franklin Delano Roosevelt brought the country out of the great depression by building public works projects. There's no better way to restart, to re-kick the economy than to spend it on infrastructure," he said.
Plus, he says it doesn't create debt at the national level.
"Dollar for dollar, what is spent on increasing infrastructure, is paid back in taxes and further investment in the economy. So, it's really a debt free investment in the country," he said.
As well, he says in Louisiana, infrastructure improvements would help keep jobs from being lost to Texas.
"Texas our neighbors to the west, their highway construction program is $1 billion a month. That's $12 billion a year," said Naquin.
The chief economist for the AGC says 68% of construction firms report projects cancelled or delayed over the past two months.
A link to the webinar is on the AGC Facebook page.