Editorial:Louisiana workers can get good jobs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 17, 1998

L’Observateur / June 17, 1998

In the mid-1980s the price of crude oil plummeted to record lows and Louisiana’s oil-based economy plummeted with it. Offshore workers accustomed to plum salaries and upscale lifestyles found themselves losing their houses and boats and literally walking It was a time when much of the rest of America enjoyed the Reagan years, with stocks riding high and the economy on a boom.

Times have changed.

The economy is better than ever, oil prices are again down but, surprise!, Louisiana’s economy is not in a tailspin. Rather, construction is on the rise and any skilled worker can find work. Indeed, some skills are at a shortage and workers are coming froBack in the oil bust of the 1980s, some Louisiana cities such as Houma and Morgan City virtually shut down because of the massive unemployment. Nowadays, especially in south Louisiana, the picture is wholly different.What happened? Diversification happened. Louisiana’s economy is not now so oil-dependent, and other opportunities are out there for employment which weren’t around 12 years ago.Look around in the River Parishes. An oil refinery recently went online in St. Charles Parish. New plants are open in St. James Parish, with more on the way. Home construction and retail-business construction are booming in St. John the Baptist Parish. DiAnyone with marketable skills who can stay off drugs, show up to work on time and perform their jobs, can work. The opportunities are there – good jobs at good salaries for honest labor.For many Louisianians, that’s the problem. There are still too many who would rather use drugs than hold down an honest job. It’s an embarrassment for the state when job applicants show up and can’t pass a routine drug-screening test.At the same time, some industries are importing workers from out of state to keep up with the employment demand. Was it so long ago when unemployment hung like a dark spectre over the state’s economy?There are simply too many good welders, pipe-fitters, carpenters and other skilled workers who are not working in Louisiana because of their use of illegal drugs. We need those skills at work, not going to waste in a drug-induced haze.We owe it to ourselves and our families to stay off drugs and boost not only the state’s economy but our own personal finances and self-images by staying clean and staying at work.

Memories are still too fresh of those long unemployment lines to allow the chance of that picture returning. Louisiana needs every worker it can handle, but we need to take care of our own.

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