Acadiana Business

Louisiana economic growth lags nation in 2012

by Leslie Turk

New figures show that Louisiana's economy grew by 1.5 percent in 2012, leaving it ranked 30th among the 50 states.

New figures show that Louisiana's economy grew by 1.5 percent in 2012, leaving it ranked 30th among the 50 states.

Gross domestic product numbers released Thursday by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis measure the economic output of each state - all the money that businesses, private individuals and governments spend on goods and services. Investment and foreign trade is also included in the totals.

Louisiana's 2012 growth rate was below the national average of 2.5 percent, but higher than 2011, when it shrank by 2.6 percent, the worst performance of any state. Earlier figures had shown Louisiana's economy expanded by 0.5 percent in 2011.

The BEA's Cliff Woodruff said revised figures for 2011 released Thursday showed lower profits for petrochemical refining.

Swings in prices and profit levels for oil and refined products can make Louisiana's output numbers very volatile. Federal figures show the biggest contributor to 2012 growth in Louisiana came from makers of nondurable goods, including oil and chemical refiners.

"You take petrochemicals and refining and that will probably add up to more than half our value added," said Louisiana State University economist Jim Richardson.

He noted that BEA had said that Louisiana had boomed by 9.4 percent in 2010, revising that down Thursday to a still-stout 5.8 percent growth rate. Richardson said both that statistical boom, as well as the measurement of 2011's recession, may not have meant much to the average Louisianan.

"Just like you can't feel the recession of 2011, you can't feel the growth of 2010," he said.

Louisiana's economic activity was valued at more than $243 billion in 2012, about 1.6 percent of the total U.S. economy of $15.6 trillion.

North Dakota's oil boom pushed it to 13.4 percent growth, fastest in the nation, while Connecticut's economy shrank by 0.1 percent, the only state to see recession. Louisiana grew slower than the Southeastern average. It trailed the pace of neighbors Texas and Mississippi, although it grew slightly faster than Arkansas.

Louisiana's per-capita gross domestic product was $43,145 per person, just above the national average of $42,784. That number is a measure of the general wealth of the economy, Woodruff said, but is not a measure of actual wages or incomes.