Leslie Turk

La. job growth gloomy in 2009

by Leslie Turk

As the nation slips further into recession, job growth in Louisiana is expected to virtually stop in 2009, according to Dr. Loren Scott, professor emeritus of economics at LSU. In Baton Rouge yesterday, Scott and his group of economists released their annual economic forecast, noting, however, that the state's job growth should pick up in 2010.

Billions of dollars in construction involving industrial expansions, levee and highway projects, rebuilding from hurricanes and less exposure to the nation's credit crisis will shield Louisiana somewhat, noted Scott.

But he cautioned the crisis that triggered Congress' $700 billion financial industry bailout made the forecast tenuous. "This is a new animal," he said. Events on Wall Street since August, when the report was originally completed, resulted in a major - and downward - forecast for Louisiana.

Over the next two years, the state will add 29,700 jobs - only 1,300 in 2009. The original projection had the growth tally for 2009 and 2010 at 53,800, including 27,000 in 2009. But gains are expected both years in the Baton Rouge, Houma, Lafayette and Lake Charles regions. Baton Rouge is forecast to add 9,200 job over the next two years, Lafayette is expected to add 6,000, Houma is on tap for 4,200 new jobs and Lake Charles should add 3,400.

Speaking at the Top 100 luncheon for Baton Rouge Business Report's BizTech Expo, Scott predicted “a relatively shallow national recession lasting about one year.”