La. job market has some unfilled needs

Published 10:57 pm Monday, September 5, 2011

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — A labor expert says some industries in Louisiana need workers, and that might be an indication of economic recovery.

Jacques Lasseigne, director of field operations for the Louisiana Workforce Commission in Shreveport, said truck drivers, industrial mechanics and people with medical training are now in demand.

Bruce Busada, president of Louisiana’s Diesel Driving Academy, said companies are hiring truckers because the economy has picked up some.

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“Trucking reacts to the economy first. If no one is making orders, trucking is the first business to see that hit,” Busada said. “A truck touches everything.”

Much of the trucking labor pool is near retirement and fewer people are trying to get into the industry, Busada said. Wages are up and demand for drivers has rarely been higher, he said.

Christus Shumpert Health Systems is trying to fill vacancies across the board from professional disciplines to support services, said system spokeswoman Kristen Gary.

Louisiana’s unemployment rate was 7.6 percent in July, down from 7.8 percent in June. The state’s unemployment rates over the past few years have typically stayed below the national average.

Kurt Foreman, president of the North Louisiana Economic Partnership, said the sectors most affected by unemployment are cyclical jobs affected directly by consumer spending like retail and the services industry.

Improving skills through training or education is necessary for Louisiana workers to remain or become competitive, he said.

Louisiana had about 20,410 job vacancies during the second quarter of the year, resulting in a vacancy rate of about 1.1 percent, according to the Louisiana Workforce Commission’s 2011 second quarter Statewide Job Vacancy Survey. For every 100 jobs, about one job was vacant. The number of job vacancies decreased by about 9,770 since the second quarter of 2010, a 32 percent decrease, according to the report.