BRAC’s March 18 COVID Brief: BRAC’s Economic Indicator Dashboard

Unemployment climbs within 2% of pre-pandemic levels  

Baton Rouge, La. (March 18, 2021) – The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) today released a special edition of its COVID-19 economic indicator dashboard that provides newly released federal unemployment data through January of 2021. The dashboard examines and assesses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the regional economy from January 2020 to January 2021. Current and archived dashboards are available online at

“We’re a full year into the pandemic, and it’s important to take stock of where we stand in our economic recovery. But because of the long lag for crucial employment data, we’re only able to see a clear picture of how the Capital Region’s economy has recovered through January,” said Andrew Fitzgerald, senior director of business intelligence for BRAC. “While the region shed seasonal jobs between December and January, a broader lens reveals that the regional unemployment rate continues to be better than that of the state and the nation, and has now climbed to within 2% of pre-pandemic levels.”

While the seasonal job loss between December and January was expected, a significant revision in federal and state data related to unemployment in the Leisure & Hospitality sector was somewhat unexpected. The downward revision means there were fewer lower-wage workers without jobs than previously thought at the outset of the year, a scenario that likely has been improving as vaccination efforts continue and Phase Three went into effect.

That bright spot, combined with the Capital Region’s weekly unemployment claims falling below 9,000 for the first time since initial lockdowns in March of last year indicate that the steady improvement in jobs forecasts over the past year appear to have staying power. When the lagging data for March is released in the early summer, it is likely that significant strengthening will be observed.

Key findings from the special edition dashboard include: 

  • Jobs fell by 4,800 and unemployment rose from 6.4% to 6.7% from December to January, which was expected – the end of seasonal work generally causes job loss entering into the new year;
  • Because of a major revision by the Louisiana Workforce Commission and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Leisure & Hospitality job situation is not as dire as previously thought. As of last month jobs in the sector appeared to be down nearly 20% from pre-pandemic numbers (-8,700 jobs), but are now down only 10% (-3,700 jobs) despite gaining only 400 jobs over-the-month;
  • Construction lost 900 jobs over the month, and is now the most negatively affected industry in the region, down 16% (-7,400 jobs) from the start of the pandemic;
  • The Baton Rouge metro’s 6.7% unemployment rate is still lower than the national rate of 6.8%, and state rate of 7.6%. Individually, Ascension, East Feliciana, Livingston, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana are all below the national rate as well.

To download the special edition of the indicator dashboard directly, click here.

BRAC’s Economic Indicator 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. 

BRAC is regularly updating 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


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