Baton Rouge Area Chamber predicts local economy is on its way to full recovery


BATON ROUGE – ‘Now Hiring’ signs are plastered across the capital city, and help isn’t just wanted—it’s needed.

“We still have a need for waiters, kitchen help, and pretty much everything that we hire we could use more help,” Brad Zito, owner of Drusilla Seafood Restaurant, said.

Like many others, Zito says he finds himself in a tough and tiring situation. He can’t find enough staff to serve his customers.

“We have to be careful that we don’t take too much business inside the restaurant or inside the catering facility just because we don’t have the staff to cover it,” he said.

But, that could soon change. According to the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, the Capital Region is well on its way to full economic recovery.

“We lost about 30,000 jobs between 2019 and 2020 in the heart of the pandemic. Since then, we made it halfway back,” Andrew Fitzgerald, BRAC’s Senior Vice President of Business Intelligence, said.

He says many industries have bounced back from COVID job losses and expect revenue and staffing to grow in 2022. BRAC believes full job recovery is possible by 2023.

“We’re just short of 400,000 jobs. We’re about 15,000 short of where we were before the pandemic, but the thing is we have open jobs,” Fitzgerald said.

Zito says signs of recovery are on the horizon just in time to make hires for their busiest month of the year.

“The hiring is getting a little bit better. We’re getting a lot more applications.”

According to BRAC, the unemployment rate is now 3.7%, just below the pre-pandemic level.

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