The Louisiana State University of Alexandria College of Business releases its May 2023 issue of the Central Louisiana Economic Dashboard.
The central Louisiana economy remains strong due to a solid labor market in the Alexandria-Pineville area, says Dr. Randall Dupont, Dean of the LSUA College of Business. The latest data from March shows that employment in the Alexandria metro area rose to 63,532, up 1,164 from January, while employment in Natchitoches reached a new post-pandemic high at 16,439.
“The local economy remains healthy,” says Dupont, “because of the labor market and consumer spending. Nevertheless, high-interest rates and inflation may slow the economy in the second half of the year.”
Unemployment in the Alexandria MSA fell to a rate of 3.0% and 3.7% in Natchitoches. In March, the overall unemployment rate for central Louisiana stood at 3.5%, slightly above the state’s rate of 3.3%. The Alexandria MSA labor market remained the tightest in the state with three postings for each unemployed. By comparison, there were two postings for each unemployed at the state level. Dupont expects an uptick in the unemployment rate as new graduates enter the workforce, but he says graduates should be able to find jobs locally.
“Strong consumer spending and housing prices are bolstering the economy,” says Dupont. April sales tax collections, which reflect sales activity in March, were up in every reporting jurisdiction. The increase for the month ranged from 20% in Evangeline to 103% in LaSalle. Rapides and Grant parishes had sales tax increases of 31% and 45%, respectively, while Natchitoches saw a 40% increase over the previous month. Vehicle sales were up substantially in March, contributing to strong consumer spending. The increase in tax revenue from vehicle sales ranged from 26-27% in Avoyelles, Evangeline, and Vernon to 36% in Rapides.
Mortgage rates have stabilized in recent weeks but remain high and housing prices have continued upward. The median listing price of a house is up 3% year-over-year in Alexandria, 19% in Natchitoches, and 65% in Leesville. The median listing price for homes in Alexandria climbed to $220,000 in April, $250,000 in Leesville, and $310,000 in Natchitoches.
The Central Louisiana Economic Dashboard is a service of the LSUA College of Business to help business and community leaders monitor the economic pulse of central Louisiana. To view the May 2023 CENLA Economic Dashboard, click here.
Written by Randall Dupont, Ph.D. | LSUA College fo Business
Photo credit - LSUA Strategic Communications