Oil industry continues to fuel job growth

11 01, 2013 by Houma Courier

Workers in the Houma-Thibodaux region are increasingly working in oilfield and manufacturing jobs.

According to the 2012 Louisiana employment report released this week by the Louisiana Workforce Commission, manufacturing provided the biggest total boost to the local job market for the second year in a row by adding just over 1,000 jobs — a 9.7 percent increase over 2011. There were 11,445 manufacturing jobs in the state’s Area 3 Labor Market that includes Terrebonne, Lafourche and Assumption parishes.

Mining, which includes oil and gas extraction, saw the biggest percentage increase in the number of jobs at 14.7 percent, which accounted for 776 new jobs in that sector that numbered 6,056 jobs.

Transportation and warehousing also saw a big increase in the number of employees, adding 805 jobs to employ 11,918 people in the region.

Both Jane Arnett, executive director of the South Central Industrial Association, and Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet cited oil and gas production as the foremost driver for the increase in those sectors of the economy.

“First off, we’re an oil-and-gas town. That’s a majority of our jobs coming from the oilfield and the associated industries,” Claudet said. “Skilled trades are always in demand tremendously. Many employers will tell you how difficult it is to get people in our area who are well-qualified and able to work.”

Claudet and Arnett said workforce development is crucial to making sure the region is attractive to oil and gas producers. Arnett has been working for 10 years on in-school programs that help bring students into vocational and technical training programs at Fletcher Technical Community College and Nicholls State University.

“If you have a skill, you can get a job in Terrebonne Parish,” Claudet said.

Arnett’s organization is focused on coordinating efforts to improve technical education between Houma-Thibodaux education institutions.

The parish is also working on expanding its affordable workforce housing program, Claudet said.

The biggest job losses came in the real estate and leasing segments, with 17.6 percent of those jobs disappearing from 2011. Total employment was at 2,267.

Health care remains the largest segment of the workforce, employing 12,130 people in the region. The number of jobs in health care have increased modestly over the past two years, increasing 2.1 percent.

The most lucrative jobs in the region remain those associated with mining, including oil and gas extraction. Workers in mining made an average weekly salary of $1,485, followed by transportation and warehousing employees, who made an average $1,355 per week, and real estate employees, who average $1,255 per week.

The workforce commission said the average weekly wage was $968 in Lafourche, $922 in Terrebonne and $805 in Assumption.