Industrial construction related to Baton Rouge’s boisterous petrochemical and area oil and gas industries will drive strong job gains in the Capital Region over the next two years, a forecast shows.
The region is expected to gain 4,400 jobs in 2012 and another 3,300 in 2013, according to the 30th annual “Louisiana Economic Outlook: 2012 and 2013,” co-authored by retired LSU economist Loren Scott, a long-time follower of the state’s economy.
Baton Rouge — the state’s second-largest metro region after New Orleans — will see the most job gains, according to the report, though the rate of growth is not as strong as some other metro markets in the state.
The momentum behind this bullish growth in Baton Rouge is some $3.4 billion in announced industrial construction and other projects, driven largely by cheap natural gas prices — good news for the petrochemical industry which relies heavily on natural gas for many of its processes — and the possibility of a “shale gale” of activity related to natural gas deposits in what’s known as the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale. The shale stretches across Louisiana’s midsection and includes the Feliciana parishes.
Oil and gas activity also is expected to help drive the oil patch and oil service economies of Lafayette and Houma and the petrochemical-related economy in Lake Charles. The two-year outlook is 5,200 jobs for Lake Charles, 4,400 for Lafayette and 2,200 for Houma.
The outlook, however, is significantly less rosy for New Orleans. The forecast projects zero job growth next year and a net loss of 600 jobs in 2013. The reductions are largely due to the closure of the Avondale Shipyard, reduced construction spending — falling $2.5 billion from 2010 — and vanishing BP payments related to damages as a result of the 2010 oil leak. Some $1.3 billion made its way into the New Orleans economy in the wake of the disaster, the report notes.
The state as a whole is expected to add 13,700 jobs in 2012, or 0.8 percent growth. In 2013, job growth is expected to be 14,800 jobs, or 0.9 percent, according to the economic report.