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Where Are The Pre-Covid Employment Numbers? In Louisiana, It’ll Take Time

A University of Louisiana at Lafayette economist predicts a slowdown in job growth in most Louisiana metro regions in the first quarter of 2022.

The state added roughly 28,000 jobs in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to UL economist Gary Wagner’s Louisiana Economic Activity Forecast for the first quarter of 2022.

It now expects 33,000 jobs over the following four quarters. Louisiana should regain pre-COVID employment levels in Q1 2023.

“Inflation is the biggest danger to the economic recovery,” Wagner wrote. “This will slow the rate of national and local recovery.”

However, growth in most of the state’s nine metro areas was slower than expected in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Alexandria

The Alexandria metro region lost roughly 400 jobs in the fourth quarter of 2021, to 59,900. The area fell 1% short of the quarter’s projection of 60,500.
Jobs in Alexandria were predicted to expand by 0.3%, but declined by 0.7%.

Wagner had predicted 60,700 jobs for the Alexandria region in the first quarter of 2022, but that number has been reduced to 60,000, a 1.2 percent decrease.

On average, 100 new positions will be created between the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022.

After the first quarter of 2023, the metro region will likely resume pre-COVID work levels.

Baton Rouge

In the fourth quarter of 2021, the state capital area added 8,500 jobs. Actual employment growth in the Baton Rouge metro region was 1.6%.

The Baton Rouge region was expected to expand by 0.7% between the third and fourth quarters of 2021, instead it grew by 2.2%.

The region was predicted to have 391,700 employment in the first quarter of 2022, but that estimate has been revised to 397,700, a 1.5% increase.

The region is predicted to create 1,100 jobs between now and the first quarter of 2022, or 0.5% increase.

The Baton Rouge region should regain pre-COVID employment levels by early 2023.

Hammond

The Hammond metro region has 46,600 employment in Q4 2021, up from 46,200 expected. Three-quarter employment growth was 600.

Between the third and fourth quarters, Hammond’s employment growth was predicted to be 0.4%, instead it was 1.3%.

Wagner had predicted 46,500 jobs for the region in the first quarter. The latest prediction upped it by 0.4% to 46,700.

In the first quarter, Hammond’s employment is predicted to grow by 0.2%, or 100 jobs.

By 2022, Hammond should be back to pre-COVID employment levels.

Houma-Thibodaux

The metro region of Houma-Thibodaux added 1,300 jobs during the third and fourth quarters of 2021. The region was expected to have 80,600 jobs, but it ended up having 2,2% more.

Between the third and fourth quarters, the area was predicted to lose 0.6% of employment, but gained 1.6%.

Wagner’s previous forecast called for 80,500 jobs in Houma-Thibodaux in Q1. Wagner has raised his forecast to 81,800, a 1.6% rise.

Despite a successful fourth quarter, the metro area’s employment statistics are likely to fall in the first quarter. The region is predicted to lose 600 jobs, or 0.7%.

A year or more will likely pass before the region regains pre-COVID work levels due to hurricanes.

Lafayette

To reach 193,300 employment in the fourth quarter of 2021, the Lafayette metro region created 1,600 jobs. With 193,600 jobs, the region fell 0.2% short.

Between the third and fourth quarters, the region added 0.8% of jobs, as expected.

In the first quarter, Lafayette is expected to have 193,500 employment, down from 195,100 before.

The metro region is forecast to create 200 jobs in the first quarter, or 0.1 percent. Pre-COVID job levels are not predicted until the second quarter of 2023.

L.C.

The Lake Charles region added 2,400 jobs from the third quarter to 95,900 in the fourth. A total of 94,200 jobs were anticipated, exceeding expectations by 1.8%.

Between the third and fourth quarters, Lake Charles added 2.6 percent more jobs than expected.
In the first quarter of 2022, the region is predicted to have 98,000 employment, up 3.3% from the previous prediction of 94,900.

Between the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, Lake Charles is predicted to gain roughly 2,100 jobs.

Because of storm damage, Lake Charles will likely take a year or more to regain pre-COVID employment levels.

Monroe

The Monroe metro region added 600 jobs in the fourth quarter. Monroe had 74,700 jobs in the fourth quarter, beating expectations by 0.4 percent.

Between the third and fourth quarters, the metro region added 0.8% more jobs than expected.

Monroe is expected to have 75,100 employment in the first quarter. The region should gain 100 jobs in the first quarter, or 0.1 percent.

Pre-COVID employment levels are unlikely to return until the second quarter of 2023.

NOLA

Between the third and fourth quarters of 2021, the New Orleans metro region created 10,300 jobs. The area outperformed the forecast of 531,100 by 0.7.

Between the third and fourth quarters, New Orleans grew by 2%, above the projected 1.4%.

The region is expected to have 541,700 employment in the first quarter, up from 537,400 before.

In the first quarter, the area should create 7,000 jobs, or 1.3 percent. Pre-COVID job levels are unlikely to be reached until the second quarter of 2023.

Shreveport-Bossier

The Shreveport-Bossier metro region added 1,200 jobs in the fourth quarter. The region had 169,600 jobs in the quarter, beating projections by 0.1 percent.

Between the third and fourth quarters, the area grew by 0.7%, matching the forecast.

170,800 jobs are predicted in Shreveport-Bossier in Q1, up 0.1 percent from Q4 2017.

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