Black women in Louisiana are paid 48 cents, on average, for every $1 earned by white men. Nationally, it’s 61 cents for every dollar earned by a white man. Andrea Flynn, writing for Time, documents key moments, from slavery to the exclusion of African Americans from New Deal social benefits, that contributed to the disparities we live with today:
The race and gender pay gap is not a bug in America’s economic system: it’s a feature. Making the labor market more equitable today and in the years to come will require understanding and accounting for our history, acknowledging how sexism and racism have been baked into our economy for centuries and continue to shape opportunities and outcomes for women and their families. But we need not avoid repeating all of our past. After all, history also tells us a different kind of rules—like those of the Civil Rights era—can move the needle toward equity and inclusion. Today reminds us just how overdue we are for more of them.
Louisiana lags in ‘clean’ jobs
More than 30 years ago, Baton Rouge oilman C.B. “Doc” Pennington left a gift that would become the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. But Pennington’s gift only paid for the buildings; it would take the state several years to come up with the funding required to do the research. Decades later, Louisiana is still struggling to support the center’s mission, even as federal grant dollars pour in. The Advocate’s editorial board:
Its impact economically was brought into focus lately when the center was awarded major grants from the U.S. Department of Defense to assess the nutritional needs of service members. The basic research in areas involving nutrition and health of soldiers has been part of Pennington for decades. The center has studied how nutrition makes warriors more resilient against stress in elite services like the Rangers or SEALs, who might need twice or more the calories of a normal person. The studies will support directly 23 jobs at the center, of the more than 450 employed there. Reflect on the numbers: The state of Louisiana might spend hundreds of millions in direct subsidies or tax breaks to attract a major petrochemical facility, employing fewer folks than that. But Pennington, like colleges slashed in funding during the two terms of Gov. Bobby Jindal and a compliant Legislature, must depend on annual appropriations.
The backlog of U-visas
More than 182,000 immigrants and family members are living in the United States under “U-visas,” granted to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or to whistleblowers who help law enforcement investigate crimes such as labor abuses. Sam Bloch of The New Food Economy tells the story of “Thelma,” who avoided deportation in last month’s chicken plant raids in Mississippi.
Thelma said her roommates have stayed inside since the raids, too afraid to answer the door, too afraid to look for work or even buy groceries. She is the only one with a work permit in the house, which she shares with five people, including her daughter. Since her cousin was laid off at PH Food, another chicken plant in Morton that was crippled by the raids, Thelma said she is the only one with a job. That makes Thelma responsible for feeding six people on $10.95 an hour.
There is currently a backlog of 240,000 workers in the United States applying for a U visa.
A battle over net metering
Tens of thousands of Louisiana homeowners and renters who had solar panels installed on their rooftops could soon see their utility bills rise thanks to the Public Service Commission. As retired Gen. Russell Honore writes in The Advocate, the PSC is considering a regulatory change that will give residential customers less credit for any unused power they sell back to the electric grid. The change has been pushed by Entergy.
Instead of fighting our greatest resources, we demand rules that protect consumers over utility monopolies. This commission should do its job for the people that elected them, not the big utilities with their armies of high-paid lobbyists. We should be putting the sun to work in our state. Louisiana has some of the strongest solar potential in the southeastern states, but we lag behind every other state in the region on utilities investing in solar.
Number of the Day
72.6 – Number of Black maternal deaths per 100,000 births in Louisiana. Four Black mothers perish from pregnancy-related complications for every white mother that dies from pregnancy-related complications in the state. (Source: The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)