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Cenla economy continues to recover from pandemic, employers looking for workers

Employers in every sector are looking for qualified candidates
Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 4:44 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Five months into 2021 and things are starting to look up. The economy in Central Louisiana is rebounding and recovering quickly from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Region Six, almost 25 percent of us are fully vaccinated. As more people roll up their sleeves, our local economy continues to make a comeback.

“It makes sense with things opening back up, people have the confidence to open new businesses and they’re doing so here. However, that does make for an even tighter job market for companies to find those workers that they need here in Central Louisiana.”

Deborah Randolph, Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce President

This also means good news for travel. LSUA College of Business Dean Dr. Randall Dupont tracks the local economy in the Cenla Economic Dashboard every month.

“What we’re seeing and the best way I can describe it is travel is back and people are traveling again, and all the numbers are indicating that,” said Dupont.

Employers in every sector are looking for qualified candidates.

“The worker shortage in Central Louisiana is, I would say, more severe than any other part of Louisiana, especially when you look at the other metro areas. We’ve got the tightest labor market. We have basically, as far as openings, we have two openings for every unemployed person.”

Dr. Randall Dupont, LSUA College of Business Dean

The abundance of openings may be due to business formation being up significantly, and the worker shortage nationwide.

“That’s great, people are working, we’re glad about that, but at the same time, there’s a challenge and that challenge is hiring folks and finding the right employees,” said Dupont.

Employers all over Central Louisiana have positions that need to be filled.

“The strong economy is also creating the worker shortage. Basically, because the economy is doing well, employers need to hire,” said Dupont.

Dr. Dupont says this is a good problem to have as our local economy continues to recover.

“We want a strong economy and we want to put people to work and have enough employees to make the economy even stronger.”

Dr. Randall Dupont, LSUA College of Business Dean

As our economy continues to grow, Randolph says it will take us all working together to continue that momentum.

“The best way to enhance our workforce is to actually grow our own to go into jobs, but we must have those opportunities here for them. I can tell you right now we do.”

Deborah Randolph, Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce President

It’s a goal Randolph says should start in the classroom before kids even step foot into the workforce.

“Identifying those potential workers while they’re still in high school is such an important thing for us to do and get those students into programs while they’re still in high school in which they can start earning those credentials and then go on to CLTCC after graduation,” said Randolph.

This is so students want to stay local post-graduation.

“We know we need more technically trained workers going forward and so we have such a great opportunity with CLTCC’s still new downtown campus as well as the Cleco Manufacturing Center of Excellence to help us train more of those technical workers for the future who can make great wages with great benefits.”

Deborah Randolph, Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce President

This, in turn, keeps our economy growing for years.

“Now this is great for new graduates. Really a great opportunity, a great time to go out looking for jobs if you’ve got the right skills or willingness to learn,” said Dupont.

Unemployment in Alexandria is more than two percentage points below the state at 4.4 percent. With unemployment benefits in the state ending later this summer, experts say now is the time to start looking for jobs.

For local job openings in Cenla, you can visit here, or visit the La Workforce Commission - Rapides Business and Career Solutions Center on Coliseum Boulevard in Alexandria.

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