Strong jobs gains in private sector jeopardized by COVID surge
Baton Rouge, La. (August 12, 2021) – The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) today released its monthly COVID-19 economic indicator dashboard that examines and assesses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the regional economy. Current and archived dashboards are available online at brac.org/recovery.
“The granular data for this month’s dashboard is good: private sector employment soared, although governmental jobs dropped significantly,” said Andrew Fitzgerald, senior vice president of business intelligence for BRAC. “That makes the top-line numbers appear stagnant, but private sector performance looks positive. Leisure & Hospitality employment is only 3.1% below its pre-pandemic levels, indicating that restaurants and hotels are almost all the way back. The biggest threat to this comeback is another wave of COVID, and the Capital Region remains much less vaccinated than the country as a whole. Every jab a resident gets is a boon to our continuing economic recovery.”
Nearly every private industry saw positive growth over the month, led by Education and Healthcare and Professional Services. Leisure and Hospitality added another 600 jobs over the month, recouping 3,600 jobs since January. Despite this positive momentum, job recovery in the Capital Region and across the state notably lags out of state peer metros.
Key findings from this month’s dashboard include:
- Job growth dipped slightly in June despite strong performance from the private sector – government jobs dropped by more than 4,000;
- Construction continues to be the hardest-hit sector, down about 6,700 jobs from its pre-pandemic level;
- Consumer spending remained above pre-pandemic levels in July, accentuating a disconnect between employment data and other indicators;
- Hotel occupancy remained strong, indicating that despite rising case counts in the latest COVID wave, travel is strengthening.
Regional vaccination rates, while still behind national benchmarks, saw a significant 5.6% uptick over the month. The alarming surge of COVID cases regionally and statewide poses a significant threat to sustained economic recovery. Businesses are encouraged to host on-site vaccination events for employees to increase vaccinations rates and contain community spread. Information on points of contact for arranging on-site vaccinations can be found on BRAC’s blog.
To download this month’s 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.
Through its BR Works initiative, BRAC compiles local job openings. Job seekers can visit brac.org/br-works for access to hundreds of employers seeking applicants for a range of occupations.
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 1,500 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.