Acadiana Economy Showing Strong and Increasing Strength
By Anthony J. Greco, Ph.D., Professor of Economics and Finance – UL Lafayette
For the fourth consecutive year, I am happy to report that Acadiana and Louisiana have been experiencing better economic conditions than the national economy. Acadiana is characterized by sound economies continuing to be driven by a healthy diversity of industries, notably oil and gas, high-tech industries, healthcare, financial services and educational institutions anchored by UL Lafayette.
The State of Louisiana has likewise been experiencing significant contributions from such diverse industries as oil and gas, seafood, motion pictures, education, chemical, and agricultural. Both the Acadiana region and the state avoided the extreme disruptions of the nation’s financial crisis of 2008 through the implementation of sound financial practices.
Until recently, it was fair to say that the economies of the Acadiana region, the state of Louisiana, and that of the nation were all gradually improving, though the nation exhibited only anemic improvement. Presently, however, the pace of improvement has accelerated for the Acadiana region, and to a lesser extent, for the State of Louisiana. The same cannot be said for the national economy. In fact, the national economy failed to grow at all in the last quarter of 2012, undergoing a 0.1 percent decline in Gross Domestic Product. Further, the reported national unemployment rate is 7.9 and is much worse than that given the number of people with only part-time employment and the number who have dropped out of the labor force. Also the level of U.S. debt now exceeds $16.4 trillion.
A national survey of small-business owners conducted in December 2012 detected only a slight increase in optimism that the national economy would indeed improve for such business owners. In fact, these business owners expect little growth in the economy this year. In addition, consumer confidence fell significantly from November 2012 to December 2012. Business economists as a group expect more anemic growth in the economy for 2013. Given these and other current and recent conditions, it is, therefore, reasonable to expect our local and state economies to continue to outperform the national economy.
Acadiana By The Numbers
Over the 2006-2011 period shown in Table 1, the unemployment rate in RLMA4 (Louisiana Regional Labor Market Area 4 made up of eight parishes including Lafayette and Iberia) rose from 3.25 percent to 3.9 percent, rising as high as 6.97 percent in 2009 and falling over the next two years to the 3.9 percent figure in 2011.
The unemployment rate for the City of Lafayette rose from 2.8 percent in 2006 to 5.9 percent in 2011. However, the rate for October 2012 is 4.3 percent. The preliminary unemployment rate for November 2012 is 3.2 percent.
Table 2 shows the unemployment rate for each of the eight parishes comprising RLMA4 for November 2011 and November 2012.
Lafayette Parish had the lowest unemployment rate of the eight parishes in RLMA4 for both 2011 and 2012. Iberia Parish was fifth among these parishes for 2011 at 6.3 percent and fourth in 2012 at 4.0 percent. Please note that all eight parishes experienced significant declines in their unemployment rates from 2011 to 2012.
For more of Dr. Greco’s analysis of Acadiana’s economy incuding more charts on Acadiana employment, Lafayette construction, retail sales, Louisiana’s oil industry, hotel/motel tax receipts, and worldwide rig use, pickup this month’s issue of Acadiana LifeStyle at a location near you.