Louisiana’s job market has become a major point of contention among the leading candidates for governor. Gov. John Bel Edwards says Louisiana is gaining jobs, while his GOP opponents point to a different data set that says the state has fewer jobs than a year ago. The Advocate’s Tyler Bridges sorts it all out:
One set of numbers released by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that Louisiana has more jobs than a year ago, a plus for Gov. John Bel Edwards as he runs for re-election in the Oct. 12 primary. But another measure showed that the state has fewer jobs, a boon for his two Republican opponents, U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and businessman Eddie Rispone. The dispute centers over whether to use the BLS’ seasonally adjusted or unadjusted numbers.
Election-year politics aside, Louisiana has $32 billion of petrochemical projects in the pipeline, leading some to wonder if there will be enough workers to build them all. Sam Barnes of 1012 Industry Report explains:
While no one is wishing it away, there’s growing concern about the state’s ability to sustain the expected tidal wave of capital project investment beginning in the latter half of 2019 through 2022. Louisiana appears to be beating the pants off Texas in pure investment dollars. Along the 10/12 corridor alone, some 125 projects valued at $32 billion among 12 industries have begun construction or plan to begin construction in 2019, according to data provided by Industrial Info of Sugarland, Texas.
How to build economic security for Louisiana’s women and families
Mothers earn the majority of a household’s income in more than half of all Louisiana families with children. But lack of access to quality healthcare, paid family and medical leave, a living wage, fair scheduling practices, and affordable childcare force many working women into unfair choices between spending meaningful time with their families and putting food on the table. The Center for American Progress’s Diana Boesch, Elena Wirth, and Osub Ahmed offer policy recommendations for leveling the playing field for women and families in Louisiana:
Women and families in Louisiana face barriers to accessing quality health care, representation in leadership, and economic security. Louisiana women are experiencing the biggest gender wage gap in the country, and government officials are advancing legislation that would restrict access to reproductive health care, some of which has been ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Moving forward, lawmakers must prioritize policies that allow Louisiana women to get ahead. Women need policies that reflect their roles as providers and caregivers. In Louisiana, mothers are the sole, primary, or co-breadwinners in 69 percent of families, and these numbers are higher for some women of color.
Chipping away at child care wait list
Advocates for early childhood education scored a victory this spring when the Legislature appropriated $20 million for child care subsidies after years of spending nothing on the state’s youngest learners. Part of that money will be used to serve 1,400 kids on a state waiting list – 750 of whom are already receiving services. But The Advocate’s Will Sentell reports that new children are being added to the list every day, and that the appropriation is far short of what’s needed.
The (Early Childhood Care and Education Commission) in January asked the Legislature for $86 million to make a major dent in the roughly 173,000 children from birth to age 3 who need services. The request and followup efforts paid some dividends, with early childhood education winning a high profile during the 2019 legislative session and Gov. John Bel Edwards and others touting the urgency of the issue.
Dying with debt
Vicky Wilson, a digital marketer, and her husband, a manager for an online transcription business, owe more than $260,000 in student loans. And while they pay $1,300 per month toward their debt, their payments don’t cover all of their interest, leaving them stuck stuck in debt and unable to save for other priorities. At this rate, it may take 100 years to pay off all of the debt they owe for student loans. As Bloomberg’s Shahien Nasiripour explains, many young professionals share the Wilsons’ plight, and many might die in debt:
It’s no secret that America’s young adults will take a long time to pay off their student loans. But few know that this generation of borrowers is chipping away at their debt so slowly that some may not escape it until they’re dead. That’s the grim assessment of a new Bloomberg Businessweek analysis, which found that U.S. student loan borrowers as a group are paying down about 1% of their federal debt every year. It’s as if a former student were reducing the balance of a typical $30,000 college loan by only $300 annually.
Number of the Day
16% – The percent of elected officials in Louisiana who are women. Women make up 51% of the state’s population. (Source: Center for American Progress)