BATON ROUGE – Louisiana continues to struggle with unacceptably high rates of poverty and income inequality. New U.S. Census Bureau data also reveal deep racial and regional disparities, proof that economic barriers are holding back far too many Louisianans from reaching their full potential.
Louisiana tied with New Mexico for the nation’s second-highest poverty rate in 2017, and the state’s child poverty rate is now the highest in the country. The economic gap between rich and poor is the fourth-highest in the country.
These and other findings come from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which provides the most detailed annual picture of how Louisianans are faring economically.
“These statistics are troubling to say the least, and they speak to the changes that need to be made by policymakers,” said Jeanie Donovan, policy director for the Louisiana Budget Project. “For example, a statewide minimum wage above the federal minimum would help close the gap between rich and poor and break down one of the barriers preventing people from reaching the middle class.”
Major findings include:
“Having the highest rate of child poverty in that nation is completely unacceptable, and there are solutions that are working in other states,” Donovan said. “Increasing access to affordable child care and post-secondary opportunities coupled with greater investments in the state Earned Income Tax Credit would help to boost low-income families and children out of poverty.”