ALEXANDRIA – The Louisiana State University of Alexandria College of Business releases its May 2022 issue of the CENLA Economic Dashboard. Local employment continues to be the dominant story along with strong consumer spending.

“For the third time in four months, employment in March, along with robust consumer spending in the Alexandria MSA, hit a new post-pandemic high,” says Dr. Randall Dupont, Dean of the LSUA College of Business.

Preliminary employment figures for March show total employment for the Alexandria metro area stood at 63,292, which is the highest level since December 2009. According to Dupont, this marks the fifth time since the pandemic that employment has reached a new high. In March, the labor force for Alexandria was 65,125, with 1,833 unemployed.

The unemployment rate for the Alexandria MSA was 2.8% in March and unchanged from February. Central Louisiana’s unemployment rate of 3.5% in March remained unchanged as well and compared favorably to the state’s March rate of 3.8%. At 2.8%, the Alexandria MSA continues to have the lowest unemployment rate among the state’s major metro areas and the tightest labor market. “The Alexandria labor market has tightened even further,” says Dupont. “We had been averaging three jobs for every one unemployed. The March data shows the ratio is now four to one.”

“Employment looks to remain strong into the summer. However, a resurgence of Covid may affect employment in the coming months,” says Dupont. “New Orleans is experiencing an upswing in Covid cases now, which may impact central Louisiana in coming weeks.”

Consumer spending in March was up in all twelve Cenla reporting jurisdictions, with increases ranging from 18% to 74% over February. March vehicle sales compared favorably to February as measured by sales tax revenue. However, sales in March were less favorable compared to a year ago when the third round of stimulus spurred auto sales. Online shopping in central Louisiana in March jumped 26% from February. So far in 2022, online sales tax in Cenla totaled $6.2 million compared to $5.5 for the same period in 2021, a 12% increase.

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 May 2022 CENLA Economic Dashboard, click here.