A ‘new normal’ in economic development

A ‘new normal’ in economic development

The Covid-19 pandemic is changing the way companies manage their workforce. Large corporations such as Google and Facebook are letting employees work from home until next summer, while offices in Manhattan sit vacant. If this change becomes permanent, and white-collar workers become free agents who can live anywhere they choose, it could have a profound effect on the way states and regions pursue economic development, shifting the focus from luring corporations with tax giveaways to incentivizing home-office workers by offering a high quality of life. As Nola.com | Baton Rouge Advocate explains in an editorial, this is mixed news for Louisiana:

This could be game-changing good news for Louisiana, since New Orleans looms large in the national imagination as a magnet for creative people, from Tennessee Williams to Emeril Lagasse and beyond. Baton Rouge and Lafayette also have distinctive assets, particularly the latter’s Acadian cultural scene. … (But) great places to live don’t have boil-water advisories, because they failed to invest in infrastructure, thanks to a byzantine tax structure that distributes money to an archipelago of agencies, some rich and others poor.


California’s affirmative-action ban
More than two decades ago, California voters approved a ballot measure to end the use of racial preferences in admission to the state’s world-renowned public universities. Twenty-four years later, as Golden State voters prepare to vote on whether to repeal that ballot measure, the results of that experiment are now in. As Kevin Carey reports for The New York Times’ Upshot blog, ending affirmative action harmed Black and Latinx students while doing little to boost the prospects of white and Asian-American students: 

(A) comprehensive study released Friday finds that by nearly every measure, the ban has harmed Black and Hispanic students, decreasing their number in the University of California system while reducing their odds of finishing college, going to graduate school and earning a high salary. At the same time, the policy didn’t appear to greatly benefit the white and Asian-American students who took their place.


An inadequate pandemic election plan
Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin didn’t mince words when explaining his plan for the November elections to state legislators last week. It wasn’t the best plan he could come up with, but rather the only one that could win the support of the GOP-dominated committees charged with approving them. As the AP’s Melinda Deslatte explains, the result is a plan that fails to protect vulnerable Louisianans and means that a federal court is likely to decide the rules for the Nov. 3 election. 

No expansion is offered for the special circumstances of a COVID-19 quarantine, for people at greater risk of serious complications from COVID-19 or for caregivers to those particularly vulnerable to the illness. …  It could leave COVID-19 impacted voters standing in polling place lines where masks will be “strongly encouraged” but not required. And it would fly in the face of guidance from infectious disease experts and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for people in quarantine and at greatest vulnerability to the coronavirus.


New data on racial inequities of Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted – and exacerbated – the social, economic and health inequities faced by communities of color. While there is still much scientists do not know about the virus, the Kaiser Family Foundation looked at the state-by-state data. Samantha Artiga, Bradley Corallo, and Olivia Pham report

Black individuals accounted for more cases and deaths relative to their share of the population in 30 of 49 states reporting cases and 34 of 44 states reporting deaths. Other analysis of state-reported data finds that, as of August 4, the COVID-19 related death rate among Black people was over twice as high as the rate for White people, while the mortality rate for AIAN people was nearly two times that of White people. Data also reveal disparities for Asian and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHOPI) individuals in certain areas and show a sharp, recent rise in mortality rates for NHOPI and Hispanic people.


Number of the Day
14% – Increase in domestic violence calls to Baton Rouge police in January-July 2020, compared to the same period last year. (Source: Baton Rouge Advocate)