A state economist forecasts the Lake Charles metropolitan statistical area to add 3,300 jobs in 2014 and 4,500 more jobs in 2015 — an increase of 8.1 percent in two years.
Loren Scott gave an optimistic outlook for the area during his annual report to business leaders on Wednesday at the Southwest Louisiana Entrepreneurial and Economic Development Center.
“No other MSA in the state is expected to come close to this growth rate,” Scott said in his report. “Sometime in 2014, Lake Charles should surpass its previous peak reached back in 2008 and begin to set new employment records. In fact, we project that in 2015 this MSA will break through a barrier which has been seemingly illusive since the mid-’90s — over 100,000 employed.”
The promising outlook is attributed to the looming $46.6 billion worth of industrial expansions for the area. He said LNG export facilities are the driving force in investments.
He said the one cause for concern is finding enough workers. He expects the number of workers needed to rise from 6,000 to 14,000 by 2017 — the peak time for construction.
Scott posed the question: “Where are you going to get 8,000 new people?”
He commended efforts by Greenfield Logistics Solutions, which leased land from the Port of Lake Charles to build a $70 million “man camp” on 200 acres.
“I’ve been coming here for a lot of years, and I’ve never seen numbers like these,” Scott told business leaders. “It’s a scary thing to forecast numbers this big.”
He said that unless there is a large increase in natural gas prices, the Lake Charles MSA should be the “shining light” in the state’s economy in the coming years.
Scott also said the only thing holding the Lake Charles MSA back is the sluggish national economy.
“This has been the worst recovery that we’ve had since World War II,” he said.
Scott said the issue with the nation’s recovery is the federal government “raising tax rates and increasing regulations.”