Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

New Orleans ranks first in job losses; Unstable work schedules can harm children; Falling gas prices are a mixed bag; and Justice Department weighs in on access to care


New Orleans ranks first in job losses

New Orleans led all U.S. cities in job losses over the past year, according to figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ted Griggs of the The Advocate reports that many of the losses were due to the completion of large-scale construction projects such as the University Medical Center and Veterans Affairs Medical Center, but that the city also lost jobs in manufacturing, government employment and professional services. The news was more mixed across the rest of the state:


Meanwhile, Louisiana gained 13,400 nonfarm jobs over the year, despite losses in six of the state’s nine metro areas. Louisiana ended July with 1,978,800 jobs. That is a record for the month of July, according to the Louisiana Workforce Commission. Big gains in Lake Charles, which enjoyed one of the largest percentage increases in the country, and Baton Rouge helped offset the losses in other metros. Metro Lake Charles added 5,600 jobs, an increase of 5.8 percent. The Lafayette area dropped by 1,800 jobs, the second-largest loss in the state, as the impact of the oil and gas industry downturn continued. The Houma-Thibodaux area lost 1,100 jobs.


Unstable work schedules can harm children

The high cost of child care is a major burden for many low- to moderate-income families who struggle to balance work and family. But what additional challenges do families headed by workers with “nonstandard” schedules or constantly changing work hours face? Heather Sandstrom with the Urban Institute takes a look at the research:


Evidence suggests that when mothers work nonstandard schedules, children have poorer cognitive and language development and more behavioral problems. Another study found that exposure to mothers’ fluctuating work hours is associated with greater behavioral problems in children, as well as an increase in the likelihood of school absenteeism, repeating a grade, and being placed in special education. Standard and nonstandard workers do not appear to differ in terms of their mental health, quality of their home environments, or their interactions with their young children, but their children do differ in terms of their access to and use of center-based child care—the type of care that most benefits a child’s learning and later cognitive outcomes. Perhaps what’s most damaging is the fluctuation of work schedules and the resulting stress. Fluctuating hours mean children may experience different settings, different caregivers, and different meal and sleep schedules day to day. Children benefit from having a consistent and predictable routine; the lack of stability not only creates stress for parents arranging care, but also negatively affects their children’s development.


Falling gas prices are a mixed bag

With Labor Day weekend fast approaching, many Louisiana motorists (and their pocketbooks) will be pleased to see that gas prices have dropped below $2 a gallon. The oil and gas industry isn’t quite as thrilled, nor are policymakers concerned with future budget shortfalls. Renita Young of has the story:


Crude oil, which dictates the cost of gasoline, was trading at $46 by publishing time, according to the NASDAQ. That’s up from on Aug. 24, when crude oil prices were $39 per barrel. However that rise likely won’t translate into a rise at the pump soon, analysts say. Instead, as Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association puts it, “It’s probably going to get a lot worse before it gets better.” For the industry, that is. The low oil and gas prices have already caused layoffs across the industry and Briggs said Monday (Aug. 31) they could cause a state budget shortfall, since about 13 percent of the state’s revenue is tied to taxes from the oil and gas industry. Briggs said every time the cost of a barrel of oil drops a dollar, it’s equivalent to about $12 million dripping out of the state budget. Moreover, Briggs noted if oil prices don’t rise this year, higher education and health care services will be on the state funding chopping block first. Economic development projects could be slowed or stopped all together–all unfortunate breaks of oil-driven economies.


Justice Department weighs in on access to care
U.S. District Court will convene Wednesday afternoon to hear Planned Parenthood’s request to keep the Jindal administration cancelling their Medicaid contract. According to the Advocate, The U.S. Justice Department has chimed in, stating that terminating the agreement without proving that Planned Parenthood is unable to deliver services or bill correctly goes against the Medicaid statute and violates patients’ rights to choose the provider of their choice:


The lawyers contend that allowing such a termination would render the Medicaid Act’s free choice provision meaningless and would run contrary to the congressional intent of giving Medicaid recipients the right to choose a provider. The Jindal administration contends the state has the right to end the Medicaid provider agreement, and that the contract gives either party the right to cancel with 30 days’ notice. The governor exercised that right, the administration says. Planned Parenthood, which sued the state Aug. 25, estimates more than 5,200 of its patients who use Baton Rouge and New Orleans facilities could lose access to health care on Wednesday if the court does not stop Jindal from ending the state’s Medicaid agreement with its Louisiana affiliate…Neither of Planned Parenthood’s facilities in Louisiana performs abortions.


Number of the Day


10,000 – Number of mostly low-income patients that received tests for sexually transmitted infections, gynecological exams, contraceptive care, cancer screenings and other wellness services from Planned Parenthood in Louisiana last year (Source: The New York Times)