Weekly unemployment claims down 30 percent over past seven weeks
Baton Rouge, La. (September 15, 2020) – The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) today released its COVID-19 economic indicator dashboard that examines and assesses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the regional economy. The dashboard is available online at brac.org/recovery.
“While it is unclear whether the state’s move to Phase III of recovery will meaningfully affect employment, business openings, or consumer behavior, the Capital Region has seen positive economic trends from hosting hurricane-impacted residents from other parts of the state,” said Andrew Fitzgerald, senior director of business intelligence for BRAC. “Once the influx of spending from the out-of-towners subsides, the two largest factors for local businesses will be a) whether there’s another federal aid package to assist businesses and displaced workers; and b) how quickly state guidelines allow businesses currently closed or operating at limited capacity – such as restaurants and bars – to reopen.”
Key findings from this week’s dashboard include:
- Weekly unemployment claims fell for the seventh consecutive week – a 30% drop in total claims over that time;
- Consumer spending dipped considerably in the last week of August, but that doesn’t account for expected higher spending due to the influx of evacuees from Southwest Louisiana;
- Retail fuel sales continue to trend higher than a similar week last year at both the state and regional level;
- Hotel occupancy spiked in the week ending September 5 to 92% due to evacuees staying in the region as recovery efforts continue;
- Mobility was mostly static, although park attendance was up in several parishes;
- CATS continues to have about 50% of the weekly ridership that they had last year.
While initial unemployment claims rose very slightly over the week, there is little to indicate that renewed federal unemployment benefits, which expire this week, have affected the number of claims in the region. There were 40,838 combined weekly claims in the week ending September 5, still roughly 16 times that of a normal, pre-pandemic week.
The dashboard looks at a number of data points to illustrate the economy’s current state. With data from a number of regional stakeholders, the dashboard is the most real-time analysis of the Baton Rouge metro economy available.
To download this week’s indicator dashboard directly, click here.
BRAC is regularly updating brac.org/recovery with business resources and guidance related to COVID-19.
About the Baton Rouge Area Chamber
The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) leads economic development in the nine-parish Baton Rouge Area, working to grow jobs and wealth and to improve the business climate and competitiveness in the region. Today, BRAC investors include more than 1,400 small businesses, mid-sized firms, large industry and entrepreneurial startups, as well as individuals and organizations that support business and economic development. In this capacity, BRAC serves as the voice of the business community, providing knowledge, access, services and advocacy. More information is available at brac.org.