Business News

Lake Charles among few metros seeing robust wage growth

by Christiaan Mader

Meanwhile, Lafayette wages are slumping.

Map courtesy of OpenStreetMap

A new report shows Lake Charles among the top performing metros areas in terms of wage growth since 2012. That shouldn’t come as much surprise to anyone who’s followed the dramatic economic surge in Southwest Louisiana, mainly associated with the region's petrochemical boom.

The report by economic analysis firm EMSI found a 2.8 percent increase in real wages for the Lake Charles MSA, placing it on a top 10 list populated exclusively with mid-sized metros.

By contrast, the report shows that Lafayette wages have declined in that same time frame by 1.8 percent, due in large part to stagnation in the price of oil since a cataclysmic crash in 2014.

Overall, the EMSI report documents a labor climate that’s favoring the nation’s mid-sized cities. Very few of the nation’s major metros showed significant growth, which the agency says demonstrates a persistent lagging in the nation’s economic recovery, despite national unemployment holding fast below 5 percent.

The nation’s top performer in terms of wage growth is San Jose, Calif., home to a bonanza of tech firms boosting the average salaried income in the region to $118,541. Lafayette is the only metro in the state to post a decline in wages over that period, yet another indicator of Acadiana’s stubborn economic clump.

Unemployment in the five-parish Lafayette MSA (which also encompasses St. Martin, Acadia, Iberia and Vermilion) currently hovers around 6.8 percent, according to numbers released by One Acadiana earlier this month. For the most part, the region’s highest unemployment is found in areas outside of Lafayette Parish, which has managed to float a 5.5 percent unemployment rate.

Since March 2016, the Lafayette MSA has shed another 6,500 jobs across sectors. That brings the total number of jobs lost since the 2014 crash to just under 25,000.