Report Shows Opportunity for Growth in Gulf South

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NEW ORLEANS – Gulf South consumers find themselves in a cone of uncertainty as economic volatility, the aftermath of Hurricane Ida and lingering COVID-19 concerns impact decision-making for the remainder of 2021, according to new data released in the Gulf South Index Fall Update, a cooperative research project by The Ehrhardt Group and Causeway Solutions. This new information is an update to the 2021 Gulf South Index Report released earlier this year.

The data shows that 45% of consumers – both in the Gulf South and across the country – aren’t spending on big ticket items right now. A sign of the wait-and-see mode the nation seems to be toggling in.

“When uncertainty starts to creep in, consumers are going to proceed with caution in their decision making, especially when it comes to spending. This is evident in the number of people in the Gulf South and across the nation holding off on large purchases for the remainder of the year,” said Marc Ehrhardt, president of The Ehrhardt Group.

Although optimism is down since the spring, all hope is not lost with 58% of those polled nationwide and 55% in the Gulf South predicting 2022 will be a better year for them personally than 2021. This compared to 69% and 60% respectively in March of this year.

In the workforce, change is the theme of the pandemic as 47% of people across the nation and in our region have changed careers since the onset of the pandemic. People generally think now is a good time to find a good paying job in the Gulf South and 54% think the region offers attractive career opportunities in their desired fields.

While consumers feel the Gulf South offers a distinct culture, the sentiment among those surveyed is there is room for growth and opportunity in the healthcare and infrastructure sectors.

Can we still achieve the American Dream? Today, the rest of the country is more optimistic about being able to achieve the American Dream. However, the Gulf South is not necessarily more pessimistic, but rather more unsure than the nation as a whole.

This research reflects how the Gulf South differs from the rest of the country in its opinions and behaviors.  It further reveals where the current challenges lie in the Gulf South and what local businesses and organizations can do to transform these challenges into opportunities. The latest findings examine views of consumers across the nation and then specifically in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle about their current thoughts on the economy, outlook for the future, spending habits, who they trust, post-pandemic behaviors and comfort levels with travel and leisure activities.

The Gulf South Index research is an essential indicator for anticipating trends in our region now and into 2022. The latest findings are the result of a series of online surveys, each of 1,500 adults with a margin of error of 2.5%.  Surveys were conducted on September 13, 2021.

Download the full Gulf South Index fall update here.

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