ALEXANDRIA, La. – The Louisiana State University of Alexandria College of Business releases its January 2022 issue of the CENLA Economic Dashboard. “Historically low unemployment rates will dominate the first half of the year, further challenging employers seeking to hire,” says Dr. Randall Dupont, Dean of the LSUA College of Business.  

In November, central Louisiana had an unemployment rate of 3.6% compared to 4.1% for the state. The Alexandria metro area recorded a 3.0% unemployment rate, the lowest among the state’s metro areas for the 19th consecutive month. The Louisiana Workforce Commission notes Alexandria currently has 1,900 unemployed and 5,600 job openings. This equates to approximately three openings for each unemployed. Worsening the hiring challenge is the decline in population, both locally and statewide. Every parish in central Louisiana declined in population between 2010 and 2020. Among the ten parishes tracked by the CENLA Economic Dashboard, the population declined by 3.5%, compared to 2.7% for the state.  

On a positive note, consumer spending for 2021 is higher in all parishes, as measured by sales tax revenue, ranging from an increase of 10% in St. Landry to 44% in Catahoula. Evangeline had a 31% increase for the year, while Natchitoches and Rapides recorded 16% and 15% increases, respectively. Alexandria ended the year with a 13% increase in sales tax revenue, while Pineville ended with a 7% gain for the year.  

“Consumers made more online purchases this Christmas season than ever,” says Dupont. Online sales tax revenue in December was 62% higher than last year. In Rapides, $635,00 in taxes was collected from online sales compared to $386,000 last year marking a 65% increase. Evangeline saw an 87% increase while Natchitoches saw an 88% gain in online sales tax revenue. For 2021, $16.9 million in sales tax was collected from online purchases in central Louisiana. Online sales taxes collected in December reflect sales activity in November. 

The recent entrepreneurial trend that started in 2020 in Rapides and Louisiana continued in 2021, according to data from Rapides Parish Sales and Use Tax Department and the Census Bureau. Rapides experienced a 29% increase in business applications last year, from 402 in 2020 to 518 in 2021. Likewise, 100,202 new business applications were filed in Louisiana in 2021 compared to 84,564 in 2020 and just 54,181 in 2019.  

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 2022 CENLA Economic Dashboard, click here.