LSUA releases latest economic dashboard

LSUA sign at Alexandria, La campus
LSUA sign at Alexandria, La campus(KALB)
Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 12:37 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (LSUA) - The Louisiana State University of Alexandria College of Business has released its July 2020 issue of the CENLA Economic Dashboard.

The Dashboard shows the central Louisiana economy remains strong in terms of consumer spending and future construction activities with continuing improvement in employment, according to Dr. Randall Dupont, Dean of the LSUA College of Business.

Compared to April, consumer spending in May as measured by June sales tax revenue was up in seven of the nine reporting parishes and cities, with Pineville having the largest percentage increase at 25%, followed by Rapides up 14%, and Alexandria up 11%. Vehicles sales in May were up 43% in Rapides and Avoyelles, and 26% in Evangeline, according to the report.

The valuation of building permits filed in June increased 32% in Evangeline, 50% in Rapides, and 65% in Avoyelles over May filings, with the valuation of new residential construction permits issued by the Rapides Area Planning Commission increasing 78% over last June.

“Strong consumer spending in May and increased construction activities starting in June will further strengthen local employment, which continues to improve,” said Dupont. “The Alexandria MSA had the lowest unemployment rate among the state’s metro areas again in May at 9.2%, while Rapides had a rate of 9.3%. The average unemployment rate for Cenla stood at 10.8%, compared to 13.1% statewide.”

Initial unemployment claims are down 68% in Rapides, falling from 1,541 claims at its April 18th peak to 495 claims last week. However, continued unemployment claims remained high, down only 9% to 4,992 from a May 23rd high of 5,495.

“The $600 a week federal supplement to unemployment benefits is set to end July 31st. If the supplement is not extended, consumer spending may be adversely impacted until local employment returns to pre-COVID levels,” Dupont continued.

Other key findings of the Dashboard include:

•Passenger traffic at AEX continues to exceed the national average with AEX ranking second among statewide airports, while area hotel occupancy continues to be weak. Through May of this year, occupancy was down 23% in Rapides and 15% in Avoyelles.

•Twenty-two percent of Louisiana small businesses said it would take three months or less for their business to return to normal, compared to 14% nationally.

•For the week ending June 20, new business formations in Louisiana reached an all-time weekly high for the third straight week with 1,770 business applications filed. Through June 20th of this year, 31,010 businesses were formed compared to 29,360 during the same period in 2019.

The CENLA Economic Dashboard is a service of LSUA to help business and community leaders monitor the economic pulse of central Louisiana.

To view the July 8th CENLA Economic Dashboard, click here.

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