BRAC’s latest COVID-19 economic indicators show strong signs of recovery

    The Baton Rouge Area Chamber today released its latest COVID-19 economic indicator dashboard, which allows the public to examine and assess the impact of the pandemic on the regional economy.

    “This week’s data has shown the strongest signs of recovery since the outset of the pandemic,” says Andrew Fitzgerald, senior director of business intelligence for BRAC, in a prepared statement. “Unemployment claims fell sharply, while spending rebounded in East Baton Rouge and stayed strong in other parishes. As parts of the economy move more toward full recovery, policymakers will be able to better understand who is still struggling because of the pandemic –—leisure and hospitality, DBEs, unemployed individuals, and others—and craft further relief policies accordingly.”

    Total weekly unemployment claims dropped sharply for the second week in a row, for a total decrease of 22% since the week ending Aug. 1. The decline in claims suggests a non-negligible number of residents stayed on unemployment due to the federal enhancement to benefits, which expired around the same time as the drop. 

    Meanwhile, consumer spending rose significantly in the parish, meaning that the three largest parishes in the region are within 5% of pre-pandemic spending.

    Despite numerous closures due to phase two policies, small business revenues in both East Baton Rouge Parish and Ascension Parish have grown. However, 34% of small businesses in Livingston Parish are closed, dropping revenues by over 40%.

    Hotel occupancy continues to trend toward 2019 averages, while retail fuel sales were higher than the same week in 2019 for both the metro area and the state as a whole, indicating an upward trend. Numbers are expected to continue to increase due to the hurricane. See the full dashboard.