Louisianans socked away 8% more in savings last year, but it’s the nation that’s playing catch up on socking away cash. After years of low savings nationwide, the annual rate hit $545.5 billion in 2008, a figure not seen since the Commerce Department started keeping records in 1959. Sidney Seymour, chief examiner with the state Office of Financial Institutions, says Louisianans are savers, historically averaging up to 10% annual growth in their accounts. Last year, the savings figure totaled $49.5 billion with the 392 banks, thrifts and credit unions in the state, up from $45.7 billion the year prior. Seymour says although he’s seeing “some slippage in asset quality” this year, the figures still look healthy.
Guy Williams, president of New Orleans-based Gulf Coast Bank & Trust Co., says savings are up 5% to 10% over the previous year at the bank. People don’t want new credit card debt and are paying it off, Williams says. They’re also postponing big tag purchases.
“People are looking for a chance to build their cash reserves because they’re nervous about what’s coming next,” Williams says. “We’re seeing people with great interest in savings accounts.”—Anna Thibodeaux