News alert: Baton Rouge metro area forecast to add 15,100 jobs over next two years

    Plummeting oil prices over the past year have taken a toll on the state’s employment numbers and negatively affected the economic outlook for 2016-17, according to economists Loren Scott and James Richardson, who are delivering their annual Louisiana Economic Outlook at Business Report’s Top 100 Luncheon this afternoon.

    “When energy prices are strong, the state prospers,” the report by Scott and Richardson says. “When oil prices are declining it is tough … this has been one of those bad years, and it reflected in 2015 employment numbers and the prospects for 2016.”

    Oil-producing regions of the state, namely the Lafayette and Houma areas, have been particularly hard hit, while Baton Rouge and New Orleans have seen very modest growth.  Among the highlights of the report:

    • The nine-parish Baton Rouge metro area is poised to see job growth of 2.2% in 2016 and 1.5% in 2017. Total job growth in 2016 is expected to be at 8,900, while the area is forecast to add another 6,200 jobs the following year. The area has about $8 billion in industrial projects under construction currently.
    • New Orleans is projected to show meager growth of 0.5% in 2016, or 2,900 jobs, and a slightly better growth rate of 0.8% in 2017, or 5,100 jobs.
    • The state overall is expected to see a slight increase in job growth of around 0.8% in 2016 and 1% in 2017. Total job additions are expected to be around 15,400 in 2016 and 19,600 the following year.
    • About half of the $125.1 billion in announced industrial projects are under construction now.
    • Oil prices should rebound to $55 per barrel in 2016 and $60 per barrel in 2017, though enormous uncertainty surrounds those projections and prices could actually fluctuate from between $30 and $90 per barrel.

    The Top 100 Luncheon wraps up the Louisiana Business Symposium, which is presented by Business Report and is taking place at the Crowne Plaza today. The symposium kicked off with the Best Places to Work Awards Breakfast this morning, at which the area’s top employers were honored and executives from a few of the firms participated in a panel discussion on what employers can do to foster employee engagement. Read Daily Report PM for full coverage on the 2016-17 economic outlook.

    —Stephanie Riegel