BRAC: Vaccines bolstering Baton Rouge’s economic recovery

The Greater Baton Rouge Business Report

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber today released its monthly COVID-19 economic indicator report, which assesses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the regional economy.  

“As more and more residents are vaccinated—at this point, more than 15% of Capital Region residents have received at least an initial dose—the economic data continues to improve,” says Andrew Fitzgerald, senior director of business intelligence for BRAC, in a prepared statement. “Between the governor moving the reopening to Phase Three and the federal government issuing additional stimulus checks, local businesses should see increased activity in the coming weeks, meaning higher consumer spending and fewer unemployment claims.”

While data is lagging, the regional economy one year after the first stay-at-home order is showing positive signs of a steady, sustained recovery. More than 70% of Baton Rouge households are eligible for the full amount of the direct federal stimulus payment, which may lead to a bump in spending similar to that in April 2020 and further accelerate stabilization.

Key findings from this month’s dashboard include: 

• Weekly unemployment claims fell for the seventh straight week. 

• Low-wage workers in Baton Rouge have been hit hardest—through the end of 2020, jobs for those making $60,000 or more were down only 3%, while jobs for those making less than $27,000 were down more than 15%. 

• Between 15% and 18% of small businesses remain closed in the Capital Region’s three largest parishes of Ascension, Livingston, and East Baton Rouge. 

• Consumer spending was at or above pre-pandemic levels in Livingston and Ascension in February, but down about 9% in East Baton Rouge. 

• The Capital Region had an initial vaccination rate of 16.6% as of March 8, up from 8.2% around the same time last month. See the full report. 

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