The Louisiana State University of Alexandria College of Business released its January 2021 issue of the CENLA Economic Dashboard.
“Local consumer spending continues to exceed expectations,” said Dr. Randall Dupont, Dean of the LSUA College of Business and creator of the monthly dashboard.
Although total consumer spending for December is not yet available, preliminary data indicates a positive outlook the month. Consumer spending in Rapides Parish the first week of December was up 4% over January 2020. Consumers in Rapides spent more time shopping and dining than the state average. However, the small businesses have taken the brunt of the economic impact, said Dupont. Researchers at Harvard-based Opportunity Insights report small business revenue in Rapides was down 44% at the end of the year compared to 36% statewide.
“The number of new business applications filed in Louisiana last year is very encouraging,” said Dupont. Applications for 82,000 new businesses were filed in 2020, compared to 54,000 a year earlier. Of the new businesses, 24,000 are likely to have planned wages according to Census Bureau data. “We are encouraged by the growth in new business applications,” he said.
“Our goal in creating the Louisiana Small Business Development Center (LSBDC) at LSUA is to support existing small businesses and to help these new businesses through the formation process,” he added. In Louisiana, it takes three to six months to form a business after making application. The local SBDC will hold a ribbon cutting January 21 at the Central Louisiana Regional Chamber office on Third Street in Alexandria.
Louisiana’s employment picture improved in November with the unemployment rate falling 1.2% statewide to 8.1%. Employment in the Alexandria metro area improved as well with the unemployment rate falling to 5.9% in November, while the rate for Central Louisiana stood at 6.9%. Initial and continued unemployment claims in Central Louisiana and statewide trend downward in December. However, initial claims increased sharply with the new year. Initial claims in Central Louisiana the first week of January more than doubled from late December, while initial claims statewide tripled, rising from 8,273 to 25,414.
Six of the nine Central Louisiana jurisdictions included in the Dashboard reported higher tax revenues in December, reflecting increased consumer spending in November. Avoyelles, Evangeline, and St. Landry reported decreases of 10% to 14%. Year-to-date tax revenues were up as well, with the exception of Concordia and LaSalle. November vehicle sales activity was down slightly compared to October, but sales activity was up more than 30% over last November, with Rapides posting a 16% gain so far this year.
Construction permits in Rapides and Avoyelles were up significantly in December. Rapides saw $36 million in construction being permitted last month, bring its total to $81 million for the year compared to $72 million in 2019. Likewise, Avoyelles issued $53 million in permits in December, bringing its total to $105 million for the year compared to $52 million last year.
The CENLA 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 January 13 edition of CENLA Economic Dashboard, click here.