In the commercial arena, Texas has attracted major corporate relocations and expansions, with Toyota and State Farm Insurance having set up shop in Plano and several petroleum and oil-service interests gravitating to Houston.
The oil and gas sector has stimulated considerable design and construction activity in both Texas and Louisiana, though the decline in prices has curtailed activity in the first quarter of 2015.
Nevertheless, Texas has benefitted from new investments in drilling, particularly in the Eagle Ford formation in South Texas and the Permian Basin in West Texas, Simonson says.
Additionally, both Texas and Louisiana have seen major investments in downstream oil and gas transport, including new pipelines, rail lines, terminals and barge facilities.
Large petrochemical plants and gas-fired powerplants also have broken ground in both states. Though the first quarter of 2015 proved weak in many key regional markets, no one is pushing the alarm button yet.
"Construction-related employment in Texas fell on a month-over-month basis in January 2015 after 29 consecutive months without a decline," says Basu, who notes that employment in Texas fell 0.7% in the first quarter of 2015, the worst first-quarter performance since 2009. Louisiana experienced a steeper decline in the first quarter, 2.6%, the worst first-quarter performance since 2002.
"In part, declines reflect a broader economic malaise," says Basu. "Consumers are not spending extra dollars as expected. A robust recovery in regional construction activity will depend heavily on the emergence of higher energy prices, and there is no reason to believe that will happen during the current calendar year."
While the drop in oil prices has challenged employment in oil-services industries, decreased state revenue and slowed some oil-related construction, it also has brought benefits to the region, particularly in the area of construction employment, Simonson says.
Layoffs in the oil sector and project cancellations may have made it easier for contractors to hire workers to complete projects that otherwise would have competed for the same work force, Simonson says.
Although New Orleans has experienced a drop in construction employment, other metro markets in Louisiana and Texas are adding workers.