Number of La. licensed contractors hits 5-year high in 2011
While much of the country remains in the tank as far as the construction industry goes, Louisiana has become a destination for out-of-state contractors who are desperate for work. The number of licensed contractors in Louisiana hit a five-year high in 2011—21,741—according to a new annual report from the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors. In 2010, there were 21,182 total licensed contractors in Louisiana—about 2.6% fewer than at the end of last year. While the industry in Louisiana was not hit as hard as it was in most other states during the recession and there remains a relatively high amount of work here, says LSLBC Executive Director Michael McDuff, migrating out-of-state contractors are definitely responsible for part of the increase. "Louisiana is really one the hot spots right now," McDuff says. "I think of it as parallel to the 1980s, when we were in a big, big economic downturn here and we lost a lot of good contractors to Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and elsewhere. Today, they're coming here." Roughly 25% of all licensed contractors are domiciled outside Louisiana, McDuff says. According to the LSLBC 2011 annual report, the number of commercial licensed contractors rose 3% to 15,455 last year, while the residential market saw a 2% decline in contractors and the home improvement sector increased about 1.5%. "I'm very optimistic," McDuff says of 2012. "We expected the residential numbers to decrease some, but we're very excited to see the commercial numbers up. That's very encouraging. You know, there's really a lot more development going on than people think." —Steve Sanoski
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