Shreveport-Bossier City likely won’t see full job recovery from COVID-19 until 2023, LSU business professor emeritus of economics Loren Scott said Wednesday.
Scott spoke virtually on the Louisiana Economic Outlook he produces annually with his co-author LSU professor Greg Upton. The Port of Caddo-Bossier and Committee of 100 hosted the event.
Shreveport-Bossier, the state’s fourth-largest metropolitan statistical area, has Louisiana’s third-highest job loss (10,600 jobs or 5.9%) for 2020.
The big losses came from Libbey Glass, DiamondJacks Casino and Dolet Hills mine and plant. Libbey Glass is shutting down its 450-person plant in Shreveport. DiamondJacks permanently closed its resort and casino in Bossier City, meaning 349 jobs were lost. Dolet Hills in Mansfield is closing its mine (155 jobs) and power plant (88 jobs).
Those were the biggest job losses in the area, but Shreveport-Bossier also lost jobs in hospitality and tourism as well as healthcare, construction and other industries.
Temporary job losses also were damaging to the Shreveport-Bossier economy. Benteler Steel dropped from 530 employees to 158. Cactus Wellhead, an oilfield service in Bossier City, began laying off 42 employees in April. BJ Services, a fracturing firm in Shreveport, eventually filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and had a WARN notice laying off 273 employees.
More: How bad was the COVID-19 shutdown on Shreveport-Bossier economy? Numbers tell the story
That’s the bad news for the area.
The good news is Shreveport-Bossier City has already improved 49% from April to July in its employment figures. That 49% improvement matches the state average.
The area is projected to add 6,400 jobs in 2021 and another 1,000 in 2022. Those numbers still account for only 70% of the jobs lost in 2020.
“We see Shreveport picking up 6,400 jobs next year,” Scott said. “Very strong growth rate. Mainly because of a lot of the sector economy hurt by COVID coming back and adding another 1,000 in 2022.
“We do not think you’ll recover all of your jobs until 2023. If you get those nice hits at the Port (of Caddo-Bossier) and the National Cyber Research Park (in Bossier City), that could change all of this and make it much, much better. But right now, we see not getting all of the jobs back.”
Scott said the area should see restaurants, movie theaters and other sectors of the economy coming back to life, especially if a COVID-19 vaccine is developed later this year or early next year. A vaccine and the presidential election are two factors that could alter the projections.
He said some of the bigger job numbers in the area will likely come from the Port of Caddo-Bossier, the National Cyber Research Park and Ochsner LSU Health.
One positive trend for the area comes at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City.
After seeing the number of employees — civilian and military — decline last year, the numbers showed growth in 2020.
For 2020, there are 2,368 civilians and 6,838 troops at the base for a total of 9,206. A year ago the total was 8,930, down from 9,745 in 2018.
The civilian job total at the base is down from 2,420 in 2019. But the troop total at the base is up from 6,510 in 2019.
“Up until this year, the civilian and troop count had been declining fairly substantially,” Scott said. “That has reversed this year. You’re up almost 300 jobs there.”
More: Dual-branded hotel coming to Shreveport with new jobs
This article originally appeared on Shreveport Times: Economists expect Shreveport-Bossier to recover some, but not all, jobs in 2021 and 2022