By Carol Boissiere, Apartment Finder, Senior Publisher LA & MS
When looking back on the outlook of Louisiana in 2011, one can see that it mirrored the conditions in the rest of the Southeast with the fall of the Housing Industry and the struggle for economic recovery. Even though Louisiana was one of the few states reporting stable home prices, both real estate sales & permits issues continue to be low.
But things look brighter when looking forward to 2012, a recovery year for construction and new export opportunities are helping power economic optimism in Louisiana. Louisiana is faring better than most of the Southeast in many economic categories, according to an economic outlook report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. The bank published its 2012 economic outlook in the fourth quarter 2011 issue of the bank's regional economics magazine, EconSouth. The regional report compares and contrasts economic trends in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida.
Louisiana fares particularly well in the housing sector. The report cites a study by the National Association of Homebuilders naming 23 markets in the United States that qualified as "improving" in September. Among those are Alexandria, Houma and New Orleans, the only metro areas in the Southeast to make the list. The NAHB classifies a metro area as "improving" if it shows an increase in housing permits, employment and housing prices for at least six consecutive months. However, the state ranked second to last in existing home sales in the Southeast in 2011.
The report also cites, the state has bounced back from a 6% drop in population that occurred after Hurricane Katrina, and is now growing at just above 1%, on pace with the United States as a whole. Additionally, tourism in disaster-ravaged areas such as the Gulf Coast and New Orleans has rebounded considerably.
Energy extraction and manufacturing of production equipment in southern Louisiana increased in 2011, helped in part by federal contracts and by technological advancements. The state job market is surging relative to the rest of the region, with a 7.2% unemployment rate—the only state to post a percentage lower than the national average of 9.1%.
Needless to say, Louisiana is on the right track for economic improvement in 2012!