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Wednesday, October 16, 2019



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State economist predicts job growth

State economist predicts job growth

The Houma-Thibodaux area is projected to be the second-fastest growing economy in the state over the next two years.

Louisiana economist and LSU professor emeritus Loren Scott is projecting 1.8% employment growth in 2020 and 3.5% growth in 2021, or over 4,500 new jobs.

Scott presented his annual Economic Outlook to local business and industry leaders at the Cypress Columns in Gray last week. The event was sponsored by the South Louisiana Economic Council.

The economist is making two “heroic assumptions” this year: an economic boom period is going to continue through 2019, 2020 and 2021; and a spurt is about to happen in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Houma-Thibodaux area lost 17.5% of its jobs since 2014, Scott said.

Employment had just begun to grow in 2018, and while local employment numbers tracked by the Louisiana Workforce Commission suggest employment is going down again, Scott said it doesn’t track with what he’s hearing from employers.

Companies such as Danos, Grand Isle Shipyard, Chett Morrison, Edison Chouest, Thoma Sea, Bollinger and Gulf Island are expanding employment, he said, projecting the commission will later make “major revisions” to its employment data.

Port Fourchon is also continuing to expand, with two slip expansions in the works and a major airport road project now fully financed.

Fabricators, on the other hand, aren’t expected to rebound in the same way because of how oil companies are starting to tie in new wells to existing rigs, rather than build new ones.

Scott also pointed to traffic data at the La. 1 toll location in Leeville. While the numbers flattened out for the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years, traffic has started to decrease according to 2019 monthly totals, he said.

With new money coming in to finish the elevation of La. 1, Scott said the only way to get the last $150 million in needed federal money is to re-elect President Donald Trump in 2020.

In the oil and gas market, Scott predicts the price of oil will remain around $59 per barrel through 2021. He also expects production to continue increasing with a “spurt” on the horizon, keeping a lid on prices.

Lease sales have increased 52% and bid amounts by 33%, Scott said.

The economist is also predicting Chevron will finally crack the code of the Anchor field by the end of the year, finding a way to drill in waters with 20,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, compared to the current 15,000-pound capacity.

Natural gas, however, isn’t expected to fare as well. Scott predicts natural gas prices will continue to decline because the sheer amount of the resource far exceeds demand and ability to move it. There are not enough pipelines to move the gas, and companies have begun just burning it on site, he said.

Scott’s full Economic Outlook can is online at www.lsu.edu/business/eprg/laeconomicoutlook.

 

-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or julia.arenstam@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JuliaArenstam.