Demand for contract labor in the Baton Rouge area should total between 21,000 and 25,000 jobs for most of the year before surging between a record 27,000 and 28,000 in the first half of 2016.

The Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance released results of its biannual, 18-month contract labor survey of industrial plants Thursday.

“I know it’s a record,” said Connie P. Fabre, GBRIA’s executive director. The next-highest totals were recorded in 2008.

“I think things are really strong, even though we’ve had this dip in oil prices,” Fabre said in reference to crude prices that have dropped from more than $100 per barrel last year to less than $50 this year.

That collapse may have hurt some energy companies, Fabre acknowledged, but it has helped chemical companies that benefit from low oil prices. “They’re still chugging along,” she said.

GBRIA’s survey revealed the three contract craft workers most in demand in the Baton Rouge area today are welders, pipefitters and instrument-and-electrical technicians.

Also in high demand are engineers, process technicians, millwrights, scaffold builders, insulators, nondestructive-test technicians and laborers.

GBRIA is a nonprofit trade association of 61 petrochemical, energy, paper, pharmaceutical, storage-terminal and other industrial facilities in the Baton Rouge area.

The survey breaks the projected jobs into three categories:

  • The association’s survey showed area demand for maintenance and small-capital-project workers is expected to remain steady at more than 12,000 jobs from now through June 2016.
  • About 8,000 contract workers for large capital projects should be needed from now through December, GBRIA reported. Then, that demand should increase steadily to about 15,000 in May and June 2016.
  • There are high peaks and deep valleys in the cyclical demand for contract workers for plant turnarounds, shutdowns and outages. A peak is expected to top 3,800 this month before sinking to 600 in May. Another peak of 5,000 is forecast for October. The deepest valley is predicted for June 2016 — 147.

GBRIA’s member plants are in eight parishes, three of which are outside the Baton Rouge metropolitan statistical area.

Those three parishes are St. Landry, St. James and St. John the Baptist. The other five are East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Pointe Coupee, Ascension and Iberville.

GBRIA officials said Thursday that they produce their surveys in an effort to help education and industry officials train and recruit skilled workers for the refineries, chemical plants and other industrial facilities.