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LSUA Cenla Economic Dashboard released for February

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Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 1:16 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (LSUA) - The Louisiana State University of Alexandria College of Business released its February 2021 issue of the CENLA Economic Dashboard.

“As expected consumer spending in December exceeded 2019 levels by double digits,” said Dr. Randall Dupont, Dean of the LSUA College of Business and creator of the monthly dashboard.

Consumer spending for December as reflected in January sales tax collections exceeded December 2019 by 10 to 30% in Central Louisiana. Rapides and Pineville reported increases of 16%, while Alexandria and Evangeline recorded 10% and 20% increases, respectively. Ball, Boyce, Lecompte, and Woodworth all had gains ranging from 35 to 42% over last December.

“2021 is off to a good start”, said Dupont. According to debit and credit card transaction data, consumer spending in Rapides for the week ending January 31, 2021 was up 19.2% compared to January 2020, while statewide spending was up 9.5%. “However, not all businesses are benefiting from the increase in consumer spending,” Dupont added. Small business revenue in Rapides was down 27% compared to a year ago due to fewer small businesses being open. All Central Louisiana parishes reported lower small business revenue ranging from a 14% decline in St. Landry to a 75% decline in Evangeline.

“Employment in Central Louisiana continues to outperform the state average,” said Dupont. In December, the average unemployment rate in CENLA stood at 5.9% compared to 6.9% statewide. For the eighth straight month, Alexandria’s metro area had the lowest unemployment rate among the state’s major cities at 5.0% and the tightest labor market. “There are three job openings for every two unemployed in Alexandria,” Dupont said.

A new data point starting in this month’s CENLA Economic Dashboard is the number of new businesses established in Rapides. A total of 43 new businesses were established in January, down from 50 in January 2020, but significantly higher than the 28 started in 2018. In 2020, 402 new businesses were established in Rapides, a decrease of 6% from 2019.

To encourage more business creation, the LSUA College of Business and the City of Alexandria are partnering on a 10-week business startup training program, called Launchpad. The Launchpad program, which will run from March 1 until May 5, is designed to help individuals interested in creating their own business develop an effective business plan and create a sustainable business model. The program will be taught by LSUA business faculty and use Kauffman Foundation’s FastTrac® online content. Topics covered include market research, business model design, pricing strategy, legal strategy, distribution and sales, financial management and building the organization. Anyone interested in participating can email business@lsua.edu for more information.

The CENLA Economic Dashboard is a service of the LSUA College of Business to help business and community leaders monitor the economic pulse of central Louisiana. To view the February 2021 CENLA Economic Dashboard, click here.

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