BRAC dashboard: Economy roaring back despite high jobless numbers

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber today released its monthly COVID-19 economic indicator dashboard that examines and assesses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the regional economy.  

Recent data shows that consumer spending is high, while unemployment rates are still lofty at 5.8%. This is due in part to increased disposable income for the unemployed from enhanced weekly federal benefits, the report states. 

Vaccination rates remain varied with just below 40% of the population in East Baton Rouge Parish receiving at least one vaccination dose compared to 72.3% in West Feliciana Parish and just 19.6% in St. Helena Parish. 

Key takeaways from this month’ dashboard include:

  • Hotel occupancy and revenues are well above 2019 levels, indicating that travel and tourism have rebounded significantly.
  • Jobs fell by 1,500 from March to April despite COVID restrictions being lifted and the economy reopening.
  • Of the 33,459 unique job openings in the region that report salary data, median advertised salary is $22 an hour.
  • Baton Rouge is now even further behind its out-of-state peer metros regarding job recovery, as growth has stalled in Louisiana’s three largest metros.
  • After hitting a low in unemployment claims in late March, claims have stagnated in the 9,500 to 10,500 range in the two months since, well above the 2,200 pre-pandemic average weekly count.

View today’s dashboard here.