BRAC economic indicators highlight divided recovery 

    The Baton Rouge Area Chamber today released its latest COVID-19 economic indicator dashboard, which assesses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the regional economy. 

    “The K-shape of the recovery is becoming more clear as data continues to be released: While things are back to normal for most mid- and high-income jobs, low-income jobs—specifically in the leisure and hospitality sector—have yet to return,” says Andrew Fitzgerald, senior director of business intelligence for BRAC, in a prepared statement. “The trendline is headed up for a good chunk of the Capital Region population but continues to fall for those in specific industries that cannot more fully open due to Phase III regulations. Renewed federal stimulus post-presidential election focused on these individuals and industries would keep them afloat until the economy more fully reopens and consumer behavior returns to normal.”

    Key findings from this week’s dashboard include: 

    • Unemployment claims have fallen for the fourteenth consecutive week, and are down 63% from the height of the pandemic.
    • Consumer spending has nearly completely recovered in Livingston and East Baton Rouge, and is above pre-pandemic levels in Ascension.
    • Retail fuel sales continue to outperform sales from a similar week in 2019, up 13% over-the-year in the metro area.
    • The Capital Region continues to recover jobs more slowly than its peer metro areas: All peer areas are within 5% of their pre-pandemic employment count, while Baton Rouge is still nearly 8% below.
    • Leisure and hospitality (-28.4% below pre-pandemic job levels) and construction (-17.8%) continue to be the most negatively affected sectors. See the full report here.