BATON ROUGE (BRPROUD) — The beginning of 2023 can determine how the year will go, economically and socially.

“The data shows we’re not in a recession right now,” said Baton Rouge Area Chamber Senior Vice President of Business Intelligence Andrew Fitzgerald. “But, you know, the GDP numbers lag a few quarters. So we don’t know whether right now, the last three months of the year, we had negative growth or not. “

Although a recession is still in the air, the New Year is offering some other changes, including inflation. 

“It’s [inflation] is going down nationally according to the latest data that we have. The hope is that that continues. The Federal Reserve will likely continue raising interest rates to combat that. And so hopefully it gets under control in 2023,” Fitzgerald explained.

He said a huge turning point in the Baton Rouge Metropolitan economy will come when the industrial industry bounces back. 

“How do you think we’re going to start this year versus end this year?” I asked.

“The way the industrial construction sector goes is a good barometer on how things are going to go for the capital region,” Fitzgerald responded. “It’s a matter of when and not if the industrial construction sector recovers and because it’s such high-paying jobs. That’s really great news for us to get that money back in circulation, those salaries back in the region.”

A few things that are predicted to stay the same this year are the way people are choosing to work.

He said, “Hybrid, if not remote for office jobs, in particular, is probably here to stay for a while because it’s a perk that has a minimal cost also for employees.”

But it’s important to get as many people career-ready as possible as unemployment is low, and labor shortages remain high.

“We’re trying to ensure that every student in East Baton Rouge graduates high school with some industry-based credential or certification, a skill set to go immediately into the workforce upon graduation,” Fitzgerald explained.

BRAC said once the data for these last three months are released, it will give them a better idea about any recessive conditions.