St. Tammany EDF Releases 2011 Trends Report
The St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation today released its quarterly Trends Report, detailing local economic data for the fourth quarter of 2011 and annual comparisons.
While the number of employed Parish residents was 0.7 percent lower than in 2010, unemployment claims were 1.6 percent lower than in 2010. For the fourth quarter of 2011 (4Q11), unemployment claims were 11.8 percent lower than in the corresponding quarter of the previous year (4Q10). Local unemployment was 5.4 percent, lower than the state and national rates of 6.7 and 8.3 percent, respectively. An unemployment rate near 5 percent is considered economically healthy, as it indicates an available workforce for business startups and for companies considering relocation or expansion in the area.
The housing market has continued its rebound, with housing unit sales rising 21 percent in quarter-over-quarter comparisons, and 16.7 percent in year-over-year analysis. Housing sales volume rose 15.9 percent in the last quarter of 2011, and 12.4 percent in annual comparison. Average sales price fell 4.2 percent in 4Q11 from 4Q10, and 3.8 percent in annual comparison. Nonetheless, the average sales price in 2011 was $215,263, and the uptick in volume of sales is a strong, positive indicator for a market sector that has struggled in recent years. An increase in housing sales also suggests population growth that accompanies job-creation. Similarly, average apartment rent in St. Tammany rose 4.2 percent from the previous year, suggesting an increase in demand for housing.
Vehicle sales, a new trend indicator included in the report, rose 6.1 percent quarter-over-quarter, and 5.8 percent in year-over-year comparison.
Five-hundred seventy-seven (577) new businesses were launched in St. Tammany Parish in 4Q11, up 17.3 percent over the corresponding quarter in 2010. In annual comparison, new business starts were 5.8 percent higher in 2011.
“In almost every category, we are seeing improvement and growth,” said Brenda Reine Bertus, executive director of the STEDF. “We continue to weather the economic downturn very well, particularly in comparison to other areas of Louisiana and the nation as a whole. The diversity of our local economy, our geographical advantages and our ongoing efforts to retain and recruit businesses are serving St. Tammany Parish well.”
The full Trends Report will be available online at www.STEDF.org later today.
STEDF is the lead economic development organization for St. Tammany Parish. The organization is charged with attracting new business and employment opportunities to St. Tammany Parish. The organization seeks to improve the quality of life in the parish by strengthening and supporting the business climate in the area. For more information, visit www.stedf.org.