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BRAC Releases 2013 Economic Outlook: Unemployment and construction growth showing positive trends

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) today presented its 2013 Economic Outlook during a Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week (BREW) breakfast. The presentation included data on unemployment, job distribution, real estate market trends, tax revenues, and population growth projections. The complete presentation can be viewed at

"The Baton Rouge area continues to maintain an overall healthy economy. Unemployment rates are lower than the national average and steady gains are being made in a number of sectors, especially construction," said Adam Knapp, President and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. "For economic development projects, BRAC has already exceeded its goals for job creation and new payroll for 2012. We are very optimistic about 2013."

The analysis contains several note-worthy highlights.

· The Baton Rouge area unemployment rate in September was 6.2 percent. This is the lowest rate seen in the area since November of 2009.

· The region has seen tepid nonfarm employment growth over the past two years, with the region growing at an annual rate of 0.5 percent during that time.

· The construction sector, especially heavy and specialty construction, has been a main economic driver over the past year. It is anticipated that construction will continue to be a key driver through 2014, especially given the low price of natural gas, which is spurring new industrial construction and expansions.

· In the past, the region has seen disappointing migration trends. However, from 2009-2011, fewer people with bachelor's degrees, graduate degrees, or PhDs left the region than in the previous period. Furthermore, the net-increase of people to the region is increasing.

· The 2013 Economic Outlook survey revealed that regional businesses are much more optimistic about regional economic growth than last year, with 71 percent of respondents expecting growth. This is 24 percentage points higher than the 47 percent that expected growth in 2012. Furthermore, when asked for adjectives with which to describe the economy, businesses used the terms "growing" and "stable" the most frequently.

· The survey also revealed that while regional employers are optimistic about the economy at large, regional businesses are not planning to increase their rate of hire from last year. Forty-seven percent of businesses are planning to hire staff, one percentage point lower than last year's outlook.

Each year BRAC's completes an Economic Outlook to help regional businesses prepare for the next one to three years. The 2013 presentation, as well as presentations from previous years, can be found at

About the Baton Rouge Area Chamber

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) leads economic development in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area, the Creative Capital of the South. Serving as the voice of the business community, BRAC's investors includes more than 1,200 organizations whose employees represent over a third of the workforce.