Record job numbers for the first nine months of the year point to job growth of 2.3 percent in the nine-parish Baton Rouge metro area in 2015, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber predicted Tuesday.
“Our region continues to experience incredible growth,” Adam Knapp, BRAC’s president and chief executive officer, said at the annual Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week breakfast.
“Employment in the Baton Rouge area is at an all-time high, breaking the regional employment record once again, and every parish in the … area is expected to increase employment in 2015,” Knapp added.
Metro area parishes include East and West Baton Rouge, East and West Feliciana, Livingston, Ascension, Iberville, Pointe Coupee and St. Helena.
Knapp said about 9,000 new jobs are expected across that area in 2015, and about 8,400 new jobs should be added in 2016.
Added Knapp: “2014 has been a strong year for economic development activity, and our economic forecast shows the effects of the boom spreading across the economy. The information in BRAC’s 2015 Economic Outlook can help business leaders take advantage of this.”
Through September, BRAC officials reported, the Baton Rouge metro area’s employment totaled a record 398,800. That total included 8,200 new jobs, a growth rate of 2.7 percent.
Last year, BRAC forecast job growth of 2.3 percent for 2014. The chamber also predicted that 2014 would end with jobs in the metro area totaling between 386,000 and 392,300. Both the rate of growth and predicted number of jobs were exceeded by the end of September.
That growth spurt was led by the construction sector, which increased its jobs by 68 percent over the first nine months of the year. The next highest sector was professional and business services, up by 12 percent.
The Baton Rouge area’s construction workers, like others in the southern half of the state, are benefiting from work on new or expanding industrial facilities. That boom is expected to total more than $80 billion statewide over the next several years.
BRAC officials reported Tuesday that $8 billion of that construction money is scheduled to be spent in the Baton Rouge area over the next two years.
Since 2009, BRAC’s report showed, gross regional roduct — the value of all goods and services created — in the Baton Rouge area has increased 24 percent, or nearly $12 billion. BRAC officials said the nation’s gross domestic product increased only 17 percent over the same period.
East Baton Rouge Parish is expected to gain the most area jobs next year — about 3,685 or 3.6 percent, BRAC reported. In addition to continued job growth at construction firms and fabricated materials companies, information technology companies — including IBM, Stixis and Edgear — are expected to add a combined total of more than 1,000 jobs to the area’s mix.
Ascension Parish should gain about 1,436 industrial, housing and retail jobs, BRAC’s report estimated.
In Livingston Parish, 927 jobs are expected to result from completion of Juban Crossing, an Our Lady of the Lake facility and continued suburban growth, according to BRAC.
And 513 jobs are expected in West Baton Rouge Parish next year because of new facilities at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge planned by both Louis Dreyfus Commodities and Genesis Energy. Union Pacific also is working on major rail improvements.
Job growth also leads to population growth, BRAC noted.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the population of the Baton Rouge metro area in 2012 at 815,000. BRAC projected the area’s population will range between 835,000 and 855,000 by the end of 2016.