BRAC optimistic about 2022 economic outlook

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (BRPROUD) – The Baton Rouge area chamber (BRAC) feels good about what the economy will look like in 2022. In BRAC’s economic outlook report for the year, it showed that Baton Rouge was recovering from the pandemic.

One of the main issues the agency is trying to address is the labor shortage and retention of young professionals in the capital region. Baton Rouge has been losing people between the ages of 25 and 44 consistently for years. BRAC said people are unaware of the variety of jobs available. At present, there are 44,000 jobs available but only 15,000 people are claiming unemployment.

BRAC believes that some aspects of the quality of life can be improved, such as having more events and things to do to attract the younger population. They also seek to strengthen diversity in leadership positions where there is a clear gap.

“Fix the awareness of available jobs, but also make them more attractive with better facilities for young people,” said Andrew Fitzgerald, senior vice president of business and intelligence.

In a survey sent to businesses in the Capital Region, one of the main barriers discussed was traffic. BRAC is encouraged by the large infrastructure projects addressed in the near future by state legislation as well as by federal money from the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

While many industries have returned to normal, some face ongoing challenges created by the pandemic. Fitzgerald said the retail business and restaurants are struggling to pay competitive wages and are facing a shrinking workforce.

“But even you see industrial construction because there has been a total hiatus in everything and now a backlog of major projects,” Fitzgerald said.

A construction company has seen it all from delayed projects and labor needs to material costs. Norisha Kirts-Glover, owner of NRK Construction, said that with construction really picking up this year, they are looking for qualified staff and are facing a shortage of materials.

“We are in the process of trying to hire superintendents since we have additional projects coming up on our plate. The problem is, we are competing with everyone else for superintendents, ”Kirts-Glover said.

Overall, BRAC predicts the region will return to pre-pandemic jobs by 2023.

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