Marked improvements in fuel sales and mobility belie impact of stagnant unemployment claims

Baton Rouge, La. (June 23, 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.

Despite an overall stagnation in jobs and revenue data, consumer vehicle fuel sales and mobility show a marked improvement over the week. Consumer vehicle fuel sales are positive for the second time in the past three weeks, and are approaching near-normal levels. Additionally, residential travel to work and retail is significantly up to near-normal mobility levels, illustrating a willingness to leave home, even if people are not working or spending as they normally would.

Unemployment numbers remain steady at 57,000 claims, a data point that will be critical to reduce as we approach the expiration of federal unemployment benefits at the end of July to avoid a negative ripple effect across the regional economy.

“Economic recovery is directly tied to shrinking the rate of illness,” said Andrew Fitzgerald, senior director of business intelligence for BRAC. “The large spike in cases reported today makes clear the personal responsibility that every citizen needs to take to follow proper social distancing protocols and to wear a mask when outside the home. Simply put, these measures not only save lives, they save jobs.”

Key takeaways from this week’s dashboard include:

  • Small business revenue varies greatly by parish, and remains down more than 20% in East Baton Rouge;
  • Vehicle fuel sales are up, which tracks with greater mobility from Capital Region residents to retail and recreation, the workplace, parks, and other sites;
  • Despite residents being out and about, unemployment claims have stagnated with around 57,000 people making claims in each of the last three weeks; and
  • While occupancy of hotels is recovering, revenue is still far below 2019 numbers, indicating lower rates due to decreased demand.

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.

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