LSUA releases latest economic dashboard

Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 3:59 PM CDT
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The following information was released to News Channel 5 by LSUA:

ALEXANDRIA, La. - The Louisiana State University of Alexandria College of Business has released its August 2020 issue of the Cenla Economic Dashboard.

“Employment and consumer spending remain strong,” said Dr. Randall Dupont, Dean of the LSUA College of Business and author of the Dashboard.

Alexandria’s unemployment rate fell to 7.6% in June, the lowest among the state’s metro areas for the third straight month. The unemployment rate in the 10 central Louisiana parishes averaged 8.7% compared to 10.5% statewide. Alexandria’s low unemployment rate has produced the tightest job market in the state. With 3,731 job openings for 4,608 unemployed, the Alexandria metro area has 1.24 unemployed for each opening, compared to 2.36 for Shreveport and 3.21 for Lafayette. A further indication of the strengthening employment picture in central Louisiana is the decline in initial unemployment claims in July, which reached the lowest level since the start of the pandemic. Continued claims remained high, however.

Consumer spending was robust in June with auto sales leading the way as indicated by sales tax revenue. Rapides posted a 52% increase in auto sales in June over May and Avoyelles, Evangeline, and St. Landry reported gains of 29%, 31%, and 24%, respectively. All but two of the nine reporting parishes and cities posted double-digit gains in overall spending in June over May. Consumer spending increased 15.4% in Rapides in June and was up 20% over June 2019. Year-to-date sales tax revenue is up 3.5% in Rapides, 17% in Pineville, and down 1.5% in Alexandria.

Construction activity in Rapides has shown marked improvement, despite the pandemic according to permit valuations. The value of construction permits in Rapides Parish from March – July 2020 was $22.9 million compared to $15.9 million for the same period in 2019, representing a 44% increase. Permits for residential construction in July in Rapides increased 13% over July 2019 with Pineville and Evangeline recording 62% and 21% increases respectively.

Travel continues to be mixed with air passenger traffic at AEX in July at 52% of last year’s level, compared to 26% nationally. Hotel occupancy in June was up 41% in Rapides and 207% in Avoyelles over May, although occupancy in both parishes is still down for the year.

“New business formations accelerated in July,” said Dupont. “The week of July 18th set a new record with 3,430 new businesses formed in Louisiana. For the second quarter of 2020, 17,834 new businesses were formed compared to 13,321 during the same quarter of 2019, an increase of 34%. Of those new businesses, one-third have a high-propensity of turning into a business with a payroll and another 13% are already planning to pay wages.

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 August 11th Cenla Economic Dashboard, click here.

Copyright 2020 LSUA. All rights reserved.

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