Jindal’s Economy: Grim and Grimmer


Job Growth LAby Robert Mann

Gov. Bobby Jindal loves to brag that he’s saved Louisiana’s economy.

“By eliminating burdensome businesses taxes, overhauling our governmental ethics laws, reining in government spending, streamlining our workforce development system and enacting landmark education reforms, we have established Louisiana as America’s new frontier for business opportunity,” he said in a press release in July. “Every day, more and more companies are identifying Louisiana as the best place for business investment and job creation.”grim-reaper-jobs-PU

There’s just one problem with Jindal’s narrative about Louisiana’s booming economy. It’s not true. Our state’s economy is sagging, not growing.

The sad state of “Jindal’s Economy” is highlighted in a depressing report, “The State of Working Louisiana 2013,” released Thursday by the Louisiana Budget Project (LBP).

Since 2007, the year Jindal took office, the LBP finds that we’ve had anemic job growth of only 0.4 percent. You read that right. Not 4 percent, but point four percent, i.e., less than one half of one percent.

The report concludes:

Louisiana had nearly 2 million jobs as of July 2013, an increase of 7,500, or 0.4 percent, since the start of the recession in December 2007. But the state’s population has grown by 6 percent in that time, meaning the number of jobs is not keeping up with the working-age population. With the state’s population expected to grow by another 2 percent over the next three years, this means that Louisiana must create roughly 150,000 new jobs by 2016 to bring the unemployment rate to pre-recession levels. That’s equivalent to creating 4,000 jobs each month for the next three years, more than twice the rate of job growth experienced over the past year. The state created an average of 1,950 jobs per month between July 2012 and July 2013. 

Now, to be fair, there was a national recession in Jindal’s first term, but his policies have done little or nothing to improve economic conditions in Louisiana. At a time when much of the rest of the country is creating jobs, Louisiana’s economy remains mired in recession.

Just as troubling is the state’s bleak unemployment trend. ”From Jagrim reaper to Jindalnuary to July 2013,” LBP notes, “the national unemployment rate dropped to 7.4 percent from 7.9 percent, while the Louisiana rate increased to 7 percent from 5.9 percent.”

We’re clearly headed in the wrong direction.

There is even more depressing news in the LBP report about Jindal’s Economy:

Productivity increases but not higher wages. ”Louisiana’s workers are more productive than ever, but their hard work is not paying off in higher wages. Productivity, in terms of the amount of goods and services produced each working hour, is up 35 percent since 1979, but median wages, adjusted for inflation, have grown by only 1 percent since then.”

A weak labor market. ”Louisiana’s labor market is likely weaker than the official unemployment rate suggests, as a smaller percentage of adults are working than before the recession. This indicates that many working-age Louisianans who had jobs before the recession have left the labor force and stopped looking for work due to the lack of adequate job openings.” 

Decline in manufacturing. ”Although there has been an encouraging spate of new industrial projects in South Louisiana, overall manufacturing employment in Louisiana has declined in recent years. It is down nearly 20 percent since the turn of the century and 10 percent since the start of the recession, while the lower-paying service sector continues to grow.” 

Long-term trends are bad. ”Long-term economic trends for Louisiana workers and their families are not encouraging. Median pay has not kept pace with gains in the amount of goods and services produced per hour of work, and the income gap between rich Louisianans and the rest is among the highest in the country. Wage and employment disparities persist along lines of race, gender, education and geography.”

Our median wage is stagnant. ”After decades of ups and downs, the median wage in Louisiana is only 1 percent higher today than in 1979. This is despite the fact that worker productivity has increased by 35 percent in the same period. It wasn’t always this way. Nationally, from World War II until the mid 1970s, wages generally kept pace with gains in productivity.”

Gender and racial income disparities persist. ”Women now make up slightly less than half of the labor force, but continue to earn substantially less than men. While the median wage for women increased 16 percent since 1979 and the median wage for men fell 4 percent over the same period, the typical man still makes $4.30 an hour more than the typical woman — a gap of 34 percent.

“Racial disparities in pay are even more pronounced. In 2012, the typical white worker made $5.10 more an hour than the typical black worker — a difference of 43 percent. Since 1979, wage gains for whites have steadily outpaced gains for black workers — 10 percent compared to 6 percent. Black Louisianans also consistently face higher levels of unemployment whether the economy is growing or in a recession.”

Read the entire report at this link.

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