Employee-housing survey takes look at local employment following pandemic and hurricanes

Updated: Mar. 25, 2021 at 7:43 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Considering the pandemic and last year’s hurricanes, Southwest Louisiana’s economy has met numerous challenges.

The overall unemployment rate has seen some gains compared to this time last year. However, some local businesses in the service industry like bars and restaurants have faced many challenges with finding employees.

”We do have our dedicated staff, but it’s a small staff,” said Bodega Server Ryan Kennedy.

Battered by COVID-19 and the hurricanes, local bars and restaurants like Bodega and Umami have seen the ups and downs of keeping business afloat.

”Finding employees before was slightly challenging but not too hard. But now it’s a little harder because we lost so many people, and now, we’re just trying to build that back up,” said Umami Server Dylan Callaway.

Inventory and staff - it’s the foundation for most businesses, but it’s also served as a growing commodity over the last year.

”Sometime around November, we found a good dedicated staff of 13 people. Pretty much all of them have stayed with us, and we’re very grateful,” said Kennedy.

Both Callaway and Kennedy have stood the test of time in their roles as servers but as a whole, the industry is struggling.

”So, things are beginning to rebound, but we still have a long way to go,” said President and CEO of the SWLA Economic Development Alliance George Swift.

Swift says although employment numbers have somewhat improved, there’s a bigger question at hand.


”Latest figures we have is about 9,500 people in Calcasieu Parish are unemployed. And the question is how many will be called back to their job, or have those jobs gone away?” said Swift.

He says the pandemic plays a big factor but more so the aftermath of Hurricanes Laura and Delta.

”I think the biggest issue is still the lack of housing,” Swift said. “Until we get that solved, it’s going to be hard to rebuild and get our employees back and get folks back on the job.”

The SWLA Economic Alliance is currently seeking the public’s input on an employee housing survey to find out how much of the local workforce is having to commute from other areas.

Business owners in Calcasieu parish can click HERE for a link to the survey

Employees commuting outside of Calcasieu Parish can click HERE to take the survey.

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