Louisiana last in U.S. for home equity

Louisiana last in U.S. for home equity

Owning a home – and having it gain value over time – is a key component of building family and generational wealth. But Louisiana ranks lowest in the nation across two key home equity stats, according to new data from ATTOM Data Solutions. The organization’s analysis shows that the Pelican State had the least number of equity rich homes – where owners have at least 50% equity – and the most numbers of homes that were underwater, where owners owe at least 25% more than the property’s estimated market value. Nola.com’s Adam Daigle reports

Among over 100 metros surveyed, the Baton Rouge MSA had the highest rate of homes listed as seriously underwater (20.6%) and the lowest rate of equity rich homes (10.7%). In metro New Orleans, 7.8% are seriously underwater, the third-highest rate in the U.S. The U.S. rate of 48.5% of homes being classified as equity-rich comes amid rising property values as the rate rose for the 10th straight quarter. Among more than 1,600 counties and parishes reporting, Vernon Parish’s rates of 29.1% of seriously underwater homes and 9.2% as equity-rich homes ranked among the worst three rates in the country, data show.

Should the state use contract juvenile prisons?
Gov. John Bel Edwards has called for an investigation into the allegations of sexual and physical assaults against children, suicide attempts and light punishment for authority figures who committed crimes against kids that were made in a New York Times report about the horrors at Ware Youth Center in Coushatta. The Advocate’s editorial staff agrees with the governor that an investigation is sorely needed and wonders why the state uses contract juvenile prisons when the results are this appaling. 

Louisiana has long struggled mightily to run youth prisons from Tallulah in north Louisiana to the Bridge City Center for Youth in Jefferson Parish, and we worry that the state system will now have to absorb the youth out of Ware as well. That’s a daunting proposition. But the Times’ reporting is based on years of records and interviews with those previously held at Ware. And the district attorney in the area prosecuted only three prison guards in 13 years in office there, offering plea bargains in all the cases.

Louisiana receives grant to improve air quality
The Environmental Protection Agency has granted Louisiana more than $2 million to improve air quality monitoring near industrial sites. The effort, which is fully paid for through the sweeping climate, tax and health care package that passed over the summer, is part of the White House and EPA’s new focus on civil rights and environmental justice. The AP’s Matthew Daly reports:   

“This money is headed where it’s needed most,″ EPA Administrator Michael Regan said. The newly funded projects “will ensure dozens of overburdened communities have the tools they need to better understand air quality challenges in their neighborhoods and will help protect people from the dangers posed by air pollution,” he said. … The grants follow enforcement actions announced by Regan in January to conduct unannounced inspections of chemical plants, refineries and other industrial sites in three Gulf Coast states suspected of polluting air and water and causing health problems to nearby residents.

A GOP plan to cut Medicare and Social Security 
Congressional Republicans have already said they plan to use the federal debt-ceiling fight to force spending cuts to popular programs such as Medicare and Social Security, and an influential House committee’s proposal lays out how they could accomplish this goal. According to the Reclaiming our Fiscal Future proposal, the age limits for Social Security and Medicare would increase to 70, with further increases possible as life expectancy increases. But as The New York Times’ Paul Krugman explains, the gains in life expectancy that are being used to justify massive cuts haven’t been enjoyed by people of all income levels. 

What the report somehow fails to notice, or at least to acknowledge, is that while average life expectancy for seniors was rising before Covid struck, that rise was very unequal. Gains were much larger for Americans in the upper part of the income distribution — that is, the people who need Social Security and Medicare least — than for those lower down, who need them most. Other research has shown that gains in life expectancy at age 25 — not the same measure, but surely related — have been much bigger among Americans with a college degree. In fact, life expectancy has actually declined among noncollege whites. And mortality has been diverging among regions, with life expectancy at 65  in some states, mostly red, significantly below the national average and  in others, mostly blue, significantly above.

While most voters would rather see funding for Medicare and Social Security increased, wealthy voters have been shown to support spending cuts that Republicans are proposing. 

Number of the Day
261,000 – Number of jobs that U.S. employers added in October. While the numbers were stronger than expected, economists note that the report shows a softening of the labor market. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics via the Washington Post)