Posted at NextCity
New Orleans’ New Normal Is Leaving Many Residents Farther Behind
BY MALCOLM BURNLEY | AUGUST 13, 2015
"New Brookings Institution data released today confirm there’s a murkier picture of economic progress emerging in New Orleans over the last five years than basic macro metrics can attest. The authors of “Opportunity Clusters: Identifying pathways to good jobs in metro New Orleans” also posit a potential anecdote to guide the city to a more equitable future: the “clusters theory” of economic development.
Although New Orleans has been witnessing its best job growth since the 1990s, inequality has surged in lockstep: Poverty is rising, working hours per week are falling, and average wages are too. Earned income for working-age adults who are part of struggling families averaged $21,775 in 2013, several thousand dollars below the national poverty level. And the trails to prosperity are mostly blazed by whites — who hold 68 percent of the region’s good jobs.
Most job growth has been of the low-wage variety (a trend that has been plaguing the entire U.S. economy post-Recession). Only 33 percent of all jobs are “good jobs” — defined in the Brookings report as full-time positions with benefits, offering a chance for upward mobility and not requiring post-secondary education — and most of the job growth has been in sectors like retail, hospitality and services."
A second report, Persistent Low Wages in New Orleans’ Economic Resurgence: Policies for
Improving Earnings for the Working Poor by Marla Nelson, University of New Orleans Laura Wolf-Powers, City University of New York Jessica Fisch, Georgia Institute of Technology report that:
Also posted at NextCity
PREVALENCE AND LOCATION OF LOW-WAGE JOBS, 2002-2011
"From 2002 to 2011, the New Orleans metro experienced significant earnings upgrades (Figure 1).14 In 2002, less than a quarter of all primary jobs paid more than $3,333 per month, compared to 41 percent in 2011. Jobs in the highest earning category grew in absolute and percentage terms as the number of jobs in the first two categories declined. While part of this upgrading is due to inflation,15 it also reflects the growth in knowledge-based industries in the metropolitan region.16 Yet despite the gains in high-wage jobs, nearly 60 percent of all primary jobs in the region failed to pay a self-sufficiency wage in 2011."