Pascagoula tops national list for construction job losses

By Patrice Clark - bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - The corner of Jackson Avenue and Market Street is the site of new building for Fletcher Construction. Job Foreman Chris Montiforte said lately business hasn't been rolling in nearly as fast as it once did in Pascagoula.

"It has slowed down tremendously. I have several friends that have been laid off, struggling to find jobs now," Montiforte said.

A nationwide study by the Associated General Contractors of America said Pascagoula ranks number one in job losses between 2008 and 2009. The city is facing a 39 percent decline.

Fletcher Construction co-owner Lance McCarty feels the drop in construction jobs is simply a ripple effect from the sluggish national economy and a slowdown in local post-Katrina construction.

"Last year, we were still working on a lot of Katrina rebuild. This year, we are not doing that much. Last year was a lot of private funds at that time, not that much public," McCarty said.

He said local construction firms are hurting from the influx of out-of- town companies competing for projects on the coast.

"There are a good bit of projects out to bid. Unfortunately, we have seen more of an increase in competition. It puts us in a tighter situation," he said.

McCarty said his company is staying afloat during these rough times, but many aren't so lucky.

Construction employees said if more government stimulus money comes to South Mississippi, those on the losing end may begin to recover.

"People will spend more money, therefore creating more jobs and upgrading businesses and residential areas," Montiforte said.

"I would like to see the whole state economy be picked up by the federal stimulus money, and I hope it does," McCarty said.

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