Baton Rouge economic outlook positive for 2018, report says

Baton Rouge economic outlook positive for 2018, report says
Published: Dec. 6, 2017 at 5:28 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 6, 2017 at 6:27 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The forecast for Baton Rouge's economy in 2018 is positive, according to a new report released by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.

The report says the Baton Rouge area economy is continuing to improve despite the August 2016 flood. BRAC presented its 2018 Economic Outlook at an event Wednesday morning.

"We're recovered from what the flood impact was in our community. A lot of us felt that, lived through it, and the job data… we lost about 4,000 jobs in 2016 due to the flood. We're up ahead of that and some now for where we are in December now. The October data showing that we're up and recovered from where we were," BRAC CEO and President Adam Knapp.

Knapp acknowledges that median household income for the area did decrease likely due to last year's flood but is optimistic the income levels would increase again over the next year. The median household income in the Baton Rouge area rose 22 percent between 2006 and 2016. During that time, incomes increased 19 percent nationally and only 15 percent for Louisiana.

"What's amazing is the Louisiana economy has been in a tough place. We read in the media, oh my gosh, there's so many different places… lost jobs, price of oil dropping… that has not been the story of the Baton Rouge area economy. We've continued to see growth, job creation happening, expansion. Small businesses, as we showed in the data, rapid growth. 30 percent growth in the last five years. We've added over 30,000 jobs since 2012. Lot of good things that have been happening and that pace and that rate of change. What you noted is the national data. Even as strong as the US economy is over the last 12 months, the indicators point out Baton Rouge is doing as well or better than the US in many cases," Kapp explained.

Jobs in the Baton Rouge area grew by 2.2 percent through October 2017, surpassing the projected growth rate of 1.5 percent for the entire year. The organization anticipates 4,500 new jobs will come to the Baton Rouge area in 2018, meaning a job growth rate of one-point-one percent.The unemployment rate for the Baton Rouge area has dropped to 3.7 percent compared to the state's unemployment rate of 4.3 percent.

Carpenters, electricians, and registered nurses will be the jobs in the highest demand over the next year, the report says. There will be a modest demand for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, practical and vocational nurses, and those with high-technology skills such as computer programmers and software engineers.

The organization analyzes past trends in several economic factors to create the annual report. It also provides data on employment and revenue growth from local businesses.

"I think a lot of folks feel concerned that the economy may not be as good as it has been. We've heard that in general anecdotally, what I think the data points out is that Baton Rouge area economy is still quite healthy. We're forecasting 4,500 new jobs being added next year. We went into depth with what sectors of the economy are going to be adding jobs. So, if you're a job seeker trying to figure out your next career move. There's some information you can go and look at to understand that," Knapp said.

BRAC also predicts the population of the Baton Rouge area will grow to around 840,000 by the end of the year and could increase to as high as 850,000 residents in 2018.

Click here to see the full Economic Outlook 2018 report from the Baton Rouge Area Chamber

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