A UL Lafayette economics professor warns our economic recovery from the COVID recession could drag well into 2022.

Gary Wagner says if the pandemic had not hit it is likely we would have experienced a minor economic slowdown, but because of COVID-19, we’re now looking at historic long-term job losses.

“We are probably going to lose somewhere in the neighborhood of 340,000 jobs over the next couple of months compared to what would have happened if we had been able to avoid the pandemic,” says Wagner.

The report shows the economic damage will be especially severe in Acadiana, Houma, and New Orleans due to the collapse of oil prices and the tourism industry.

Wagner says the coming recession will be worse than the Great Recession and hit the state hard because our growth heading into the pandemic was already pretty flat.

“April of 2020 the state lost 12% of the jobs, 239,000 jobs were lost in one month,” says Wagner.

Wagner notes there are some rosier projections based around the potential to rapidly regain those lost jobs the state begins to reopen, but there’s no consensus that that will happen.

Wagner says the COVID Recession will cost the state about a billion dollars in revenue compared to projections before the pandemic began.

“So that is about 1/12th of the state budget more or less so that is a pretty significant hit that is going to cause a lot of pain for a lot of people,” says Wagner.

(Story written by Matt Doyle/Louisiana Radio Network)