It’s Labor Day, and we hope that the hardworking folks of Louisiana are enjoying their well-earned holiday. This is a wonderful American tradition that, if it marks the end of summer, it also provides a healthy day of fun and family time.
It’s also a good day to look forward a little bit because there is some good news on the horizon.
Louisiana is on the upswing, we think, and we’re poised to benefit in the fall and in the new year from an improving national economy.
That’s evident in the business page headlines. Louisiana is in the midst of a dramatic expansion of the petrochemical manufacturing industry in the river corridors of the Mississippi and the Calcasieu. And multi-billion-dollar facilities for exporting liquefied natural gas are under construction in southwestern Louisiana.
Add to that considerable success in recent years in wooing high-technology companies to Louisiana, particularly in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, but also in fast-growing Lafayette. There is also a Bell helicopter facility that is an addition to the industrial sector; Gov. Bobby Jindal and other dignitaries broke found on the project Wednesday.
Oilfield services continue to be a growth center for Acadiana. And while we’re sorry about the droughts in Texas and California, the farms of Louisiana will see good prices as a result.
While all these are good signs, it is also true that Louisiana — more and more, in the decades since the last oilfield bust in the 1980s — is increasingly part of the national economy. We depend on healthy national buyers for our products, and also on international markets for energy and oilfield services, among other exports.
Despite the severe winter that actually shrank economic output across the United States in the first quarter, the economy should grow, although not to the extent that it would have. The Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday forecast that the U.S. economy will grow by 1.5 percent in 2014, although — predictably enough — the Obama administration is a little more optimistic, predicting last month that the economy would expand by 2.6 percent this year.
Pick your number on Capitol Hill; the good news for Labor Day 2014 is that there are likely to be more jobs available in the fall and in the coming year. We are not, as the new Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen observed the other day, where we want to be for employment. That’s as true in Louisiana as it is nationwide, and here as elsewhere a gap between the skills of the workforce and the skills required in a new economic model retards progress.
Still, we have a lot to be grateful for around the barbecue grill this Labor Day.