The Monroe economy has moved from one of dependency on the agriculture and wood/timber industries to one of strength and diversity. Over the last several decades, as the population and needs of the people grew, so did the industrial base. Several new primary industries including paper and pulp, plastics, insurance, telecommunications and medical services, now provide a broad base for the local economy and surrounding region.
CenturyTel, a leading telecommunications firm headquartered in Monroe, grew from a small family-owned business providing local telephone service in rural North Louisiana to a major employer both in and outside of the state. (7,000 employees in 25 states)
These and related companies have resulted in a more diversified economy and a higher skilled work force.
The civilian labor force has grown 12.3 percent over the last decade to and the 8-parish region provides a total of nearly 151,000. Within the parish, the unemployment rate has decreased with the growth of the economy, however, the average for 2000 was 4.3 percent, up from 1999's 3.9 percent.