NOLA.com / The Times Picayune
The Baton Rouge metropolitan area will continue to grow in 2015, fueled by record-breaking employment, mostly in the construction industry directly connected to expansions within the oil and gas, and manufacturing industries.
That’s according to the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, which released its 2015 economic outlook, Tuesday (Nov. 18), during a Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week breakfast. BRAC is forecasting a 2.3 percent growth rate for 2015, and 2.1 percent growth in 2016.
This translates to approximately 9,000 new jobs in 2015 and some 8,400 new jobs in 2016, a collective total of 17,400.
“Our region continues to experience incredible growth. Employment in the Baton Rouge Area is at an all-time high, breaking the regional employment record once again, and every parish in the Baton Rouge Area is expected to increase employment in 2015,” said Adam Knapp, BRAC president and CEO. “2014 has been a strong year for economic development activity, and our economic forecast shows the effects of the boom spreading across the economy. The information in BRAC’s 2015 Economic Outlook can help business leaders take advantage of this.”
The region exceded expectations from last year’s economic outlook, when BRAC predicted a 2.3 percent growth rate with about 8,700 new jobs. The year-over-year employment figure grew 2.7 percent in 2014 and has already added 8,200 new jobs through September 2014 for a total count of 398,800 employed, the highest ever in the region.
The construction sector experienced by far the largest employment growth again in 2015, the result of the continued energy boom.
The Baton Rouge Area’s economic expansion has been outpacing the national average in a number of important indicators, Knapp said. Gross Regional Product (GRP) per capita has increased 24 percent since 2009, while national GDP per capita has increased only 17 percent. Translating into absolute dollars, the region’s GRP has increased nearly $12 billion in the last five years.
Exports have followed the rising trend over the last few years in the Baton Rouge area. Regional exports increased 81 percent – nearly $3 billion – since 2009, while the national average growth has been only 45 percent.
The 2015 Economic Outlook survey showed that 88 percent of respondents expected local economic growth to continue, and a majority of respondents expected further employment growth.
BRAC’s economic outlook was based on a non-scientific survey of about 100 Baton Rouge area business owners, BRAC members and members of the business community from various industries and sizes, Knapp said. It included data on job distribution, unemployment, tax revenues, population growth projection and real estate and manufacturing market trends.