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Monday, Jan. 15, 2018

Job Projections For Shreveport-Bossier

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Economic indicators, economic modeling and employment forecasts tell a different story than the doom and gloom

Shreveport periodically finds itself on the bottom of dubious lists, where sensationalism seems to supersede actual science and facts. Wallethub recently released a list of “2018’s Best Places to Find a Job,” which was picked up as news stories in the Shreveport Times and KSLA-TV. Wallethub, a personal financial advisory website, developed a calculated ranking of 182 cities. Shreveport appeared at the bottom of Wallethub’s list, which subsequently was used as the basis of local news headlines that screamed, "Shreveport ranked as the worst place to find a job.” This claim is both unsubstantiated, misleading, or even worse, could turn into a self-fulling prophesy, if Shreveporters believe everything they read. The famous industrialist

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right.”

The fact is Shreveport’s best days are still ahead of us. Economic indicators and respected economic modeling and employment forecasts tell a different story than the doom and gloom reports that tend to sell papers, garner web clicks and attract ratings.

Both quantitative and qualitative information from respected economic development databases, unemployment rate trends and anecdotal evidence from area business leaders, indicates that the Shreveport-Bossier MSA will experience job growth in the next five years. According to Emsi, a well-known labor market database considered the industry standard for economic predictive modeling, the Shreveport Bossier MSA is projected to add nearly 5,000 jobs in the next five years.

Job Projections for Shreveport-Bossier MSA

(Source: Emsi Economic Modeling Software) This economic forecast is further supported by the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

Shreveport-Bossier MSA’s most recent unemployment rate is 4.6 percent (November 2017), down from 4.7 percent in October 2017, and down from 5.9 percent in November 2016. The Louisiana Workforce Commis- sion also issued an employment projection for Northwest Louisiana from 2015 to 2024 which shows 7.5 percent job growth.

CSRA Inc., a leading technology company with an Integrated Technology Center (ITC) in Bossier, recruited and hired over 700 employees in the area in less than four years.

Through a contract with the state of Louisiana, CSRA committed to hiring 800 employees at its ITC by June 30, 2018. Early successes led to the opening of a second Bossier City CSRA facility in 2016, known as the Customer Engagement Center, which employs approximately 100 people. In 2017, CSRA hosted four job fairs and hired hundreds of employees.

Also in 2017, GLOVIS America and Alorica announced 1,650 new jobs in Shreveport and Caddo Parish. GLOVIS operates a vehicle logistics and processing center at the former General Motors plant in Shreveport. This subsidiary of Hyundai met and exceeded its job target of hiring 150 workers in 2017. In September, Alorica opened a call center operation in Shreveport and was thrilled by the response to its job fair, which attracted 700 applicants. The company hired more than 450 jobseekers on the spot.

North Louisiana Economic Partnership (NLEP), an accredited economic development organization, recruits prospective companies to locate in North Louisiana. We also support existing business growth. NLEP’s business development pipeline, which tracks all our active economic development projects, shows 35 open projects that could potentially create at least 6,600 new direct jobs.

Of these open projects, four projects are near the final stage of completion.

As economic developers, we understand all too well the importance of workforce in attracting companies to locate in Shreveport- Bossier. Prospective companies want to know our community has the size and quality of workforce they need to sustain their longterm success. Jobseekers should not doubt their chances of finding work in our job market because of misleading headlines. Otherwise, these sensationalized claims could lead to a vicious cycle, where jobseekers migrate elsewhere, thus shrinking our labor pool. That, in turn, makes our area less attractive to new companies.

Other positive economic indicators for Shreveport-Bossier’s economy are recent housing starts and commercial construction. According to U.L. Coleman’s Commercial Review Fall 2017 Newsletter, building permits are on the rise from 2014 to mid-year of 2017. The value of permits for single-family homes grew from $56.4 million in 2014 to $89.1 million in 2015 to $93 million in 2016. The estimated value of building permits in 2017 extrapolated from mid-year data indicates that 2017 will end with $105.8 million worth of new housing starts. This economic indicator proves that Shreveporters are bullish, not pessimistic, about the local economy.

New home construction also impacts the financial sector, including construction loans and long-term mortgages.

Commercial construction during the second quarter of 2017 as compared to the second quarter of 2016 showed a 106.3 percent increase in permit value, growing from $72.8 million to $150.2 million. Additionally, U.L. Coleman’s Commercial Review reports that retail sales for the second quarter of 2017 increased 4.7 percent as compared to the same period in 2016, which is a sign of consumer confidence in Shreveport-Bossier.

These economic indicators give us reason to be optimistic about Shreveport’s economic future. While Shreveport’s economy suffered a setback in previous years, our best days are still ahead of us. Declining oil and natural gas prices impacted the Haynesville Shale-driven economy. However, local business and political leaders and business and economic development organizations are working to diversify and grow Shreveport’s economy for future generations.

Scott Martinez is a certified economic developer and president of the North Louisiana Economic Partnership (NLEP), an accredited economic development organization that serves 14 parishes in North Louisiana.

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