NOLA.com / The Times Picayune
Although numerous forecasts indicate the Baton Rouge area is ripe for economic growth, by some national standards, the city ranks near the middle of the pack as it relates to employment.
The Louisiana Economic Outlook pegs Baton Rouge as the second fastest growing area in Louisiana through 2016, adding 19,600 new jobs, or 2.4 percent growth, a reflection of the $16 billion in new industrial announcements.
But personal finance website WalletHub ranks Baton Rouge 61st out of 150 of its best and worst cities to find a job for 2015.
To determine the best and worst cities to fine a job, WalletHub analyzed the 150 most populous cities in the U.S. on the job market and socioeconomic environment. Job market took into account stats on job opportunities, employment growth rate, monthly median starting salary, unemployment rate for high school grads and people with bachelor’s degree or higher, and percentage of workforce living under the poverty line, among other factors.
Socioeconomic environment considered statistics from median annual income, time spent working and commuting, benefits, housing affordability, the crime rate, social life and emotional health of residents in the area.
And despite the ranking, local business and employment professionals say Baton Rouge is still trending upwards, however while still encountering issues that may stunt the city’s ability to actually fill newly-available jobs.
“Employment in the Baton Rouge Area remains at an all-time high; yet, the demand for skilled workers outpaces current and projected supply, which creates tremendous opportunities for industry and the education system to work toward long-term solutions to workforce preparedness,” said Julie Laperouse, director of talent development at the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.
Louisiana Workforce Commission Communications director Tom Guarisco claims that much of the Baton Rouge metropolitan area that’s normally considered when computing employment information wasn’t taken into account for the report.
“Wallethub.com focused only on jobs and opportunities within cities. For example, according to the methodology, Baton Rouge would not have been credited for the thousands of jobs available in East Baton Rouge Parish or the surrounding parishes within the metro area,” Guarisco said.
He added, “yet a significant number of new and expanding industrial plants in the metro area will provide thousands of additional jobs through 2022, Louisiana Workforce Commission forecasts show.”
Guarisco goes on to say metro areas like Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, Lafayette, Houma, New Orleans and others are forecast to have “strong job growth for the forseeable future, however opportunities not taken into consideration simply because they are outside city limits. In reality, residents of those metro areas have many job choices today, and will have even more in the years to come.”
Other Louisiana cities ranked in WalletHub’s best and worst cities to find a job in 2015 list include Shreveport at 109th, and New Orleans at 129th.