Regional economy remains plateaued overall; retail fuel sales and hotel occupancy strong
Baton Rouge, La. (July 21, 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.
This week’s dashboard shows a strong rebound in retail fuel sales, up 17 percent over-the-year for the metro area. Also remaining near normal are hotel occupancy rates, which align with 2019 norms for the second week in a row.
“Although the data shows that the Capital Region’s economy has plateaued mid-recovery, there are factors not yet borne out in the numbers. The impact of bar closures is not yet reflected in this data, which will likely cause negative movement in indicators like consumer spending, small business revenue, and unemployment claims data,” said Andrew Fitzgerald, senior director of business intelligence for BRAC. “The expiration of federal unemployment benefits at the end of the month is another external factor that is expected to further negatively impact consumer spending and small business revenue. Decisions made by the state and federal government over the next few weeks will significantly impact the regional economy’s recovery.”
Key takeaways from this week’s dashboard include:
- While overall consumer spending remains on an upward trend, small business revenue is still notably down, likely due to the high number of small businesses still closed – 14% in Ascension, 18% in East Baton Rouge, and 31% in Livingston;
- Retail fuel sales for Baton Rouge and the state had their strongest week since the pandemic began with the Capital Region showing 17% over-the-year growth and the state at 15%.
- Mobility was flat for most categories; it was down 1-2% for workplace travel in every Capital Region parish. CATS ridership also saw a notable over-the-year dip;
- Weekly total unemployment claims were down very slightly for the first time in three weeks, but the number of weekly claims has plateaued since late May;
- Hotel occupancy remains a bright spot, with occupancy nearly matching the industry’s 2019 numbers.
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.