Houston, A Bright Spot In US Economy, Frets About Labor Shortage

Tudor Pickering Holt, an investment bank, has tallied up $40 billion that companies from Dow Chemical to Exxon Mobil have said they will invest in Gulf Coast petrochemical projects over the next several years. The American Chemistry Council says $113 billion is planned nationwide for new manufacturing facilities in the next decade.

"Everybody is trying to do these expansions at the same time," said John Poisson of the Accenture consultancy's chemicals group. That means "acute near-term need when everybody wants to access the construction skills, the supply-chain skills, on the U.S. Gulf Coast."

Despite those concerns, some companies say they would still choose the Gulf Coast over other markets because its workers have deep experience in the oil and gas industry.

"At peak construction we will have about 3,000 jobs on site and 200 full-time employees to operate the facility once it is complete," said Farid Bogani, who leads Sempra's liquefied natural gas export project in Louisiana, just across the Texas border.

"There is a wide skill and craft source of labor in this area because of all the offshore work, the pipelines and the chemical plants and refineries," he said.

(Reporting By Terry Wade; Editing by Nick Zieminski)


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Ben  |  June 24, 2014
I think that if the government were to change H1-B visa restrictions and caps this labor shortage would disappear quickly. The supervisory requirement added a few years ago limits the ability to use the H1-B visa (legally). With a few small changes to the Visa requirements the more specialized people needed would be able to be brought in. This ultimately results in more jobs for Houstonians as employing these more specialized employees typically creates additional jobs for less specialized employees working below them.