Economist Loren Scott, who left us scratching our collective head when he predicted in September that the Lafayette metro would lose 3,800 jobs in the next two years, has changed course. 

Reversing his fall prediction of a loss of 3,800 jobs for Lafayette over the next two years, Scott now expects a gain of 2,500 jobs over the same period, or an uptick of just under 1 percent each year. That's the message delivered earlier this week at an awards breakfast for top performers at Van Eaton & Romero Real Estate.

Scott admits he expected a bigger drop in employment following the BP oil spill. "The big layoffs didn't happen," he says. "In part I think it's because the workforce in the industry is aging. Operators realize that they can't replace that kind of experience quickly and decided to ride it out."

But he adds that with oil trading where it is today, job growth should be much more robust, in the 3-5 percent range. "To some degree, the losses are hidden. When oil is trading at $85-$90 a barrel, Lafayette and Houma should be rocking," he says, noting that Houma lost jobs throughout 2010, showing a small gain in December, and Lafayette numbers were down slightly. Still the new prognostication was welcome news to the room full of Realtors, who were celebrating VER's 2010 closed dollar volume of $378 million and 34 years in business.

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