Economist Loren Scott outlines Baton Rouge area’s economic trends for 2021-22

Economic outlook for Baton Rouge looks fairly positive as jobs return

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The annual Business Report’s celebration of the 2020 Top 100 Private Companies was virtual this year due to the pandemic and for the first time, WAFB streamed the keynote speaker for all to see.

Economist Loren Scott unveiled his 2021-2022 economic trends outlook for Louisiana and Baton Rouge.

What we think is going to be the key thing here is the recovery of a lot of jobs that were lost simply because of the coronavirus," Scott said. “The restaurants coming back, hopefully the hotels coming back, the service sector coming back, hopefully to what is normal.”

“Scott is on the 50-member National Business Economic Issues Council, which meets quarterly to discuss issues of state, national, and international interest,” states the Business Report. “He is co-developer of the Louisiana econometric model, a model used for providing annual forecasts of the Louisiana economy.”

According to the report, the Baton Rouge area, which includes East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Livingston, Ascension, Iberville, St. Helena, Pointe Coupee, East Feliciana, and West Feliciana parishes, lost more than 52,000 jobs during the initial COVID-19 shutdown. A number of those jobs have come back. In June, that number was down to 21,800 as different sectors of the economy began to reopen.

The outlook painted a positive picture for the Baton Rouge area, naming it one of only three in the state that would regain all the jobs it lost because of COVID-19.

“What we think is going to be the key thing here is the recovery of a lot of jobs that were lost simply because of the coronavirus,” Scott said. “The restaurants coming back, hopefully, the hotels coming back, the service sector coming back, hopefully to what is normal.”

The report notes a resurgence in industrial construction as one of the primary drivers for economic recovery in Baton Rouge, indicating a demand for contractors increasing from 4,000 in 2020-I to over 9,000 in 2021-II.

The other driver will be the return of service industries such as restaurants and hotels, along with casinos.

The three large casinos in Baton Rouge were forced to layoff more than 1,600 workers in April as they were shuttered by the governor. Currently, at 50% capacity, a little more than 600 employees are still out of work.

The wildcards, as mentioned in the report, remain the threat of a third wave of the virus and the emergence of a COVID-19 vaccine. Those two factors could drastically change the economic outlook for 2021. If a vaccine is made available by early next year and the economy is allowed to fully reopen, Scott said the Baton Rouge area could see a near-full recovery by 2022.

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