Economist predicts positive outlook for 2014

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Economist Dr. Loren Scott was in Lake Charles on Wednesday.

He provided a 2014 outlook for both SWLA and the state at a conference.

The economic forecaster is well-known for his predictions on local economies. And he's from Louisiana, giving him more credibility.

Scott said there's good news for Louisiana, but even better news for Lake Charles.

Many people may say economics is boring, but Scott finds a way to make those numbers interesting.

"We've been sponsoring Dr. Scott for the past two years and are just glad to bring him back. He's always entertaining," said Phil Earhart, Market President for Iberia Bank.

And on Wednesday evening at the SEED center, Scott predicted a very positive outlook for 2014.

"We actually think Lake Charles will be the fastest growing area in the state, in percentage terms, probably 8,000 new jobs for your area. And frankly I think we're going to be looking kind of silly, I think it's going to be much bigger than that," said Scott.

And he said it's mostly because of the estimated $46.6 billion that's announced in construction projects.

But the biggest part of the growth for the state is on I-10 or south.

"When you get up to the middle part of the state, in Alexandria, Monroe, Shreveport, not quite so good. It's ok, they're growing not declining, but not nearly the same growth rate as you're seeing down here," said Scott.

Scott forecasts eight metropolitan areas of the state, as well as rural areas, and the state as a whole.

He bases his predictions on data gathered from several sources.

But it hasn't been an easy road to recovery.

"You had a very tough hit from the great recession. It looks like when they get the September data out, you may have gotten it all back. It took you awhile. But 2013 we did not anticipate being as good as it has been for ya'll," said Scott.

And looking ahead to 2015, the good news continues for the state as a whole.

"We think that sometime in 2015, for the first time in history, the state's going to have two million people employed. That's a record we've never had before so we're really looking to seeing that," said Scott.

Of course, not everything is rosy. Food stamp users are on the rise and flood insurance rates are a cause for concern.

But Scott said things will also start to slow down in 2018 when construction projects are completed and we'll have to figure out how to deal with that challenge when it happens.

Copyright 2013 KPLC. All rights reserved.