Charles Dalton (left), checks his mirrors as his trainer, Jonas Anderson, watches on during truck driving training at Diesel Driving Academy. / Henrietta Wildsmith/ The Times
Louisiana continues to outperform the South as the country's economic recovery remains in doubt, but many jobs in the state requiring experience and higher education remain unfilled.
With the South's lowest unemployment rate — 7.6 percent at the end of July — and what many economic advisors see as a newly adopted pro-business attitude, Louisiana has weathered the nationwide fiscal meltdown better than many other states, but competition for jobs remains stiff.
Competition for the available jobs in Louisiana has allowed employers to be pickier, according to Jacques Lasseigne, director of field operations for the Louisiana Workforce Commission in Shreveport. Many of those jobs aren't what people are looking for and either pay too little or are in a foreign line of work, he said.
But some industries are hurting for labor, Lasseigne said, and trying to fill those vacancies might be an indicator of recovery. Truck drivers, industrial mechanics and almost anyone with medical training are now in demand, he said.
"Trucking reacts to the economy first. If no one is making orders, trucking is the first business to see that hit," said Bruce Busada, president of Louisiana's Diesel Driving Academy. "A truck touches everything."
Busada said companies are hiring truckers because the economy has picked up some. Much of the trucking labor pool is near retirement, he said, and there are fewer people trying to get into the industry. Wages are up and demand for drivers has rarely been higher, he said.
Within the first month at the Diesel Driving Academy, Busada said students usually see two or three companies talking to them about potential jobs.
Kristen Gary, spokeswoman for Christus Shumpert Health Systems, said it is trying to fill vacancies across the board from professional disciplines to support services. Gary said experience and education are essential, but to what point they are requirements depends on the specific job.
Kurt Foreman, president of the North Louisiana Economic Partnership, attributed Louisiana's ability to hold against poor economic tides in part to a pro-business environment developed by local, state and business leadership as well as the elimination of noncompetitive taxes... Continue Reading...