A mixed picture for Louisiana’s economy

A mixed picture for Louisiana’s economy

Louisiana’s economy grew 1.7% in the second quarter, which continues the state’s economic expansion yet lags the nation as a whole and neighboring states. The data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that mining (which includes oil and gas extraction) and manufacturing led the way. Kristen Mosbrucker at The Advocate reports:

GDP generated by construction, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, finance and insurance, educational services were all down by less than one percentage point during the second quarter in the state. Meanwhile, utilities, manufacturing, retail trade, real estate, professional services, administrative support, accommodation and food services saw some slight growth during second quarter.  

Texas led the nation in economic growth at 4.7%. Mississippi and Alabama had stronger growth in the first half of 2019.


More housing assistance needed for youth exiting foster care

Young adults leaving the foster care system face a disproportionate risk of homelessness as they transition into independence. Louisiana’s recent expansion of foster care up to age 21 is an important step toward supporting this population, but more federal help is needed to make sure that former foster kids don’t fall through the cracks. Peggy Bailey, Vice President for Housing Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, testified before the Senate Banking Committee on what federal lawmakers can do to help former foster youth find decent, stable and affordable places to live.

Federal and state agencies have a special responsibility to help former foster youth transition successfully to adulthood. State agencies — with some funding and oversight from the federal government — have legal custody of children in foster care and are responsible for ensuring they receive adequate care. These agencies in effect stand in for parents unable to care for their children. But most American parents continue to help their children in various ways after they turn 18 (or even 21). In light of foster youths’ extreme vulnerability and the special responsibility that federal and state agencies have for them, Congress should do more to help them transition successfully to independence.

 

“Opportunity Zones” – rich investors attempt to trump poor
When Congress voted to create “Opportunity Zones” as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, supporters pitched it as a way to promote private investments in poor neighborhoods. But as the New York Times revealed in August, much of the benefits have flowed to rich investors in projects that would have been built without the incentive. Now, as the Treasury Department continues to define the rules for the tax incentive, Congress is asking questions about whom this provision benefits the most. Eric Lipton and Jesse Drucker at the New York Times report: 

Representatives Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri and James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, both Democrats, said they were extremely disappointed with how the opportunity-zone initiative was playing out, though they acknowledged that the results might improve over time. Mr. Cleaver said he had spent many weekends organizing meetings in his district to bring together business leaders and local officials to try to lure opportunity-zone dollars to distressed neighborhoods in Kansas City and Independence, Mo. “We thought the companies would be beating on our doors, saying, ‘Please, please, we want to build this or build that,’” Mr. Cleaver said. “But it just hasn’t happened.”

According to Louisiana Economic Development, 150 census tracts in the state are designated as low-income-qualified opportunity zones. You can view a map of Louisiana’s zones here and view current projects here.

 

Private reparations creep forward
The Princeton Theological Seminary went one step further than Rutgers and Princeton University when it not only acknowledged its ties to slavery, but set aside $27 million for reparations. The school’s decision comes after three black seminarians circulated a petition calling for reparations, pointing out the Seminary’s prominent role in theological education that often justified the institution of slavery and  prompting the seminary to study its ties slavery. Stacy M. Brown of the Louisiana Weekly explains:

“These payments are an act of repentance,” M. Craig Barnes, president of the Seminary, said in a statement. “We are committed to telling the truth,” Barnes said. Although he noted that the Seminary never owned slaves, it was complicit in the slave trade. Barnes said Princeton Theological Seminary benefitted from the slave economy when it invested in Southern banks. They also received funds from donors who directly profited from slavery, and the founding fathers of the academy used slave labor.

 

Number of the Day
1.7% – Growth in Louisiana’s economy in April-June 2019. (Source: US Bureau of Economic Analysis)