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People walk to the entrance as the Mall of Louisiana reopened Tuesday. The mall will operate under limited hours, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. 

Consumer spending was down 25% in East Baton Rouge Parish in late April compared to last year but has recovered from a nearly 40% late-March drop below last year. 

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber continues to track some economic indicators during the coronavirus pandemic through a weekly dashboard that for the first time includes consumer spending data from Opportunity Insights. 

Consumer spending recovered even more in Livingston Parish and Ascension Parish, which were down only 10.1% and 12.4%, respectively, on April 30, up from about 30% down over the year in late March. 

Statewide consumer spending is down 12.7% compared to about 35% in late March. 

The state's stay-at-home order was loosened on May 15 and many businesses reopened for the first time since mid-March across the state. So consumer spending should rebound even further, BRAC forecasts. 

The number of hourly workers at small businesses in East Baton Rouge Parish was down 58.8% as of May 8, compared to its recent low of 65% fewer workers on April 15. There are about 50% fewer hourly workers at small businesses across the state as of May 8, according to Opportunity Insights data. 

Retail fuel sales in Baton Rouge are still down 23% for gas sold between May 4 and May 10, while statewide fuel sales are also down 20%. Retail fuel sales were down by about 40% in late March, the biggest drop during the coronavirus pandemic in Louisiana. 

Initial unemployment claims dropped by 21% again to about 7,285 claims in the Baton Rouge metro area as of May 9. BRAC estimates that between 20% and 25% of workers are unemployed in Baton Rouge. 

Hotel occupancy was down to 37% between May 3 and May 9, compared to 58% occupancy in 2019. Hotel revenue was only $1.3 million, compared to $3.4 million for the same time period last year. 

BRAC economic indicators show local unemployment claims slow; hotel revenue still down

BRAC creates online economic indicator dashboard to track coronavirus impact


Email Kristen Mosbrucker at kmosbrucker@theadvocate.com.