If anyone needed more documentation that the economic world in Shreveport is stagnant, two recent reports erase any doubts.
The first report was released by the Louisiana Workforce Commission. It had both “good” and “bad” news.
The good news is that for the past twelve months ending in August, the unemployment rates fell over the past year in all nine Louisiana metropolitan statistical areas (MSA), according to not-seasonably adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor & Statistics.
The bad news is that Shreveport was one of four cities with a net job loss in that time period.
Unemployment in Shreveport was 5.7 percent, and down from 6.7 percent in September 2016. The MSA only gained 400 jobs from August 2017, but lost 1,400 jobs from September 2016. Thus a net job loss in those twelve months of 1,000.
Baton Rouge was the state leader in new jobs. The Baton Rouge MSA gained 4,900 jobs from August 2017 through the end of September 2017. And in the twelve months ending in September, this MSA gained a total of 6,200 jobs. The Baton Rouge MSA has had nine straight over-the-year job increases.
Baton Rouge was followed by Lake Charles, New Orleans, Monroe and Hammond in net job gains. Alex had a net job loss of 600 and Lafayette and Houma had more job losses than Shreveport.
The Associated Press (AP) also released unemployment statistics recently. The AP report differs from the Louisiana Workforce Commission although its findings are the same.
The AP reports that Shreveport lost 1,000 jobs from September 2017 and is down 2,600 jobs from October 2016. According to the AP Shreveport’s job losses exceeded all cities in the state.
Sooo…what’s the deal? And why not more jobs for Shreveport?
Both the City of Shreveport and the Caddo Commission fund several economic development agencies. These include the Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program(EAP) of Biomedical Research Foundation and the North Louisiana Economic Partnership (NLEP).
Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler has an economic development person on her staff.
The Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce touts itself, along with the Bossier Chamber and the Bossier Economic Foundation, as economic development agencies.
Shreveport Mayor Tyler usually deflects any criticism of her administration by placing responsibility on her predecessor, Cedric Glover. However, the unemployment statistics cover the time period that she was mayor, just like those that included Shreveport in the top 25 murder capitols in the nation.
Adding it all up, Shreveport’s climate for new job growth has not been positive. And there is little indication that this will change in the next months. No doubt jobs, crime and water bills will be the subject of much political debate in the upcoming months.
John E. Settle, Jr. is a lawyer and political columnist.