BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) published its monthly economic indicator dashboard. The data shows growth in areas including government, education, and health care.

The study said Baton Rouge added more than 5,000 jobs in August. BRAC Economic & Policy Research Manager Jake Polansky said a good portion of those jobs are in the medical industry.

“If you look at the nursing workforce in Baton Rouge it’s grown quite significantly since 2019,” Polansky said.

“Even before the pandemic, there was significant demand for healthcare workers, and even now the demand persists. Three of the top ten posted jobs in the Capital Region are health-related, and healthcare is the industry with the second highest number of job postings – nearly 2,300 were posted in September alone,” said Andrew Fitzgerald, senior vice president of business intelligence for BRAC. “The good news is that local higher education institutions appear to be meeting the moment; for example, Baton Rouge Community College currently has nearly 2,800 students studying in the field of health services, most of them in some sort of nursing. As a community, we should try to replicate this alignment between higher education and other high-demand fields.” 

Key findings from this month’s dashboard include:  

  • Baton Rouge added 5,200 jobs in August; jobs are up 10,000 year-over-year
  •   Big job gains this month were driven by the Government and Education & Healthcare sectors 
  • Compared to peer metros, Baton Rouge has had the highest rate of job growth over the last two months;
  • The Capital Region’s unemployment rate fell to 3.4% this month, and it’s been below 4% for much of the past year
  • Reduced workplace travel in Baton Rouge aligns with the national average
  • At Baton Rouge Community College, healthcare-related fields of study have higher enrollment than other programs

While nursing shortages have a strong grip in the US, Polansky said here in Baton Rouge growth is being tracked.

“Since 2019 we have added 900 new nurses to our nursing ranks, so that is a growth of nine percent if you look at nursing jobs and that is way higher than our peer metros. We looked at Birmingham we looked at Greenville South Carolina and we are adding nurses at a higher rate than all of these cities,” said Polansky.

And a lot of praise is owed to the educational institutes. At Baton Rouge Community College, (BRCC) healthcare-related fields of study have higher enrollment than other programs. BRCC Chancellor Dr. Willie E. Smith says this is not by accident.

“Two years ago we got approved for about $30 million to build a new nursing,” Dr. Smith said. “And I helped build it so this is right on time for us.”

“This is due to a lot of the impressive collaboration that we have seen recently between education institutions and health care providers across Baton Rouge,” said Polansky.

Just because the unemployment gap is closing, doesn’t mean the area isn’t hit with economic challenges.

“We do see wages rising and I think something that businesses are learning is that if they want to higher workers in this very tight labor market they are going to have to offer competitive wages,” said Polansky.