The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau includes some good and bad news for Louisiana. Louisiana’s official poverty rate decreased slightly in 2022, but still remains the second highest in the nation. The state’s uninsured rate fell to another record low and income inequality decreased slightly. But the state’s median household income, after accounting for inflation, also fell. And the national child poverty rate more than doubled last year, when taking non-cash benefits into account. A new chartbook from the Louisiana Budget Project analyzes the latest Census data and explains why it matters.

“While the latest Census data paints a somewhat complex picture, the policy conclusion is clear:  A strong federal safety net improves lives,” said Christina LeBlanc, LBP’s economic opportunity policy analyst who is the report’s primary author. “Pandemic-era Medicaid enrollment protections drove down Louisiana’s uninsured rate, but people are now losing coverage as those protections expire. And the historic reduction in child poverty in 2021 was completely reversed after Congress failed to renew the enhanced Child Tax Credit.” 

Eliminating transportation barriers for youth
A pilot program will offer free transit to New Orleans’ youth next year. The year-long initiative by Ride New Orleans and partner organizations aims to eliminate transportation barriers that can affect the education and employment opportunities of “opportunity youth”- teens and young adults who are disconnected from school and work. Verite’s Bobbi-Jeanne Misick reports

At a breakfast and panel discussion Tuesday morning for the group’s latest annual “State of Transit” report, Ride Executive Director Courtney Jackson and New Orleans City Councilmember Helena Moreno highlighted the upcoming program as a bright spot in local efforts to improve transit access. The pilot, funded with $2.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act money that was allocated by the council is “focused on the positive effects of having free transit for youth,” Moreno said in an opening address. Ride and partners are now in the early stages of designing the program – working on a budget and figuring out how youth who would benefit from the program can access it.

Fight disease at the very start of life
Babies and mothers in Louisiana die at much higher rates than their counterparts in the rest of the country. But the negative health outcomes for newborns start while in the womb, and are closely tied to a mother’s health. Dr. Stewart T. Gordon, a Baton Rouge pediatrician, writing in a guest column for the Times Picayune |Baton Rouge Advocate, explains how we need to focus on preventing disease and ensuring doctors who treat Medicaid patients are paid fairly for their work. 

We have elected a new governor. He will have the same party affiliation as most state legislators. They have the opportunity to change the trajectory of our expectant mothers and their soon-to-be-born children. With the executive and legislative branches of Louisiana’s government being in lock-step, they can more easily unite, without divisiveness, to strengthen our collective future, especially for the newborn babies we all cherish. 

Momentum for community solar projects
U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was in LaPlace on Thursday to celebrate the opening of a local “resiliency hub,” powered by solar energy and battery storage. The site at the New Wine Christian Fellowship is the largest under Together Louisiana’s Community Lighthouse project. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Mike Smith reports on the initiative meant to alleviate suffering and hardship after storms. 

Granholm and others lauded the initiative, which aims to provide enough solar-equipped locations to be within a 15-minute walk for any city resident, or a 15-minute drive in rural areas. Six locations have already been completed in New Orleans, and New Wine is the first outside of the city. A $249 million federal grant recently awarded to the state for electricity resilience and innovation, which requires an equal amount of matching funds, will help boost the project. … The sites in general allow residents to access power and cool air during times of emergency, though larger sites such as New Wine would go beyond that in their role in supplying aid.

Publishing note: The Daily Dime is taking an extended break for the Thanksgiving holiday. We will be back in your inbox on Nov. 27. 

Number of the Day
18.6% – Louisiana’s Official Poverty Rate in 2022. Louisiana was the second-poorest state in the nation last year, with an estimated 829,565 people, including 255,159 children, living in poverty. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau via the Louisiana Budget Project