Louisiana’s people are getting poorer, according to recent data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
That data was used by the economic news site 24/7 Wall St. to compile a top 10 of the nation’s richest and poorest states. Taking seventh place among the country’s poorest states was Louisiana, 24/7 Wall St. reports.
Louisiana had a 20.4 percent poverty rate in 2011 — 1.7 percentage points higher than in 2010. That makes Louisiana, according to Census Bureau data, the third most poverty-stricken state in the nation.
Statewide, there are about 910,000 people living below the poverty line. For a single person, that equates to an annual income of less than $11,170 a year, or $19,090 a year for a three-person family.
Also on the rise is the number of Louisianans deemed to be living in “deep poverty,” which is half the annual income established for the base poverty line. The number of deeply impoverished residents — about 419,000, or 9.4 percent of the population — climbed 8.1 percentage points from 2010.
The Census Bureau data also shows that more black Louisianans, 34.7 percent, live in poverty, compared to 13.1 percent of the state’s white population.
Of the state’s seven metropolitan areas, Lafayette fared best, experiencing the only year-to-year decrease. The Hub City’s metro area, which includes St. Martin Parish, dropped 1.2 percentage points to finish 2011 with a poverty rate of 18.6 percent.
Yet the average income in Lafayette Parish and statewide dropped in 2010, according to the Census Bureau data.
The average household income in Lafayette Parish — though above the state average — dropped about 10 percentage points last year, from $50,213 in 2010 to $45,172.
At $41,734, Louisiana had the seventh lowest median household income in the nation for 2011. The national median income last year was $50,502.
For Louisiana, that translates into the lowest the median household income has been in almost a decade, says analyst Steve Spires of the Louisiana Budget Project.
Looking at the state’s rate of uninsured residents, which neither increased nor decreased between 2010 and 2011, can be deceiving, Spires says.
Spires says the state’s 25.5 percent of working adults without insurance would have been worse if not for a provision in the health care reform law allowing young adults up to age 26 to remain covered under their parents’ insurance plans.
He credits Medicaid to stabilizing the state’s rate of uninsured children, but he says more and more employers are not providing insurance for workers, the majority of which are unable to receive Medicaid due to what he calls overly “restrictive guidelines:”
Proof of this disparity lies in the fact that one in four working-age adults in Louisiana lacks health insurance, while less than 6 percent of children do. Louisiana has a chance to close this “coverage gap” through federally-funded Medicaid expansion in 2014. Medicaid expansion would offer health coverage to up to 400,000 Louisianans, including 240,000 people who are working. Unfortunately, Gov. Bobby Jindal has announced his intention to block this important health care reform.
This year’s data make it clear that Louisiana is on the wrong economic track and underscores the importance of taking a balanced approach to the state’s ongoing fiscal crisis instead of the “cuts-only” approach that has depleted our education and health-care programs. The growing share of Louisianans living in poverty speaks to the need for services and policies that support working families and provide a pathway out of poverty. Fully funding K-12 education, reversing the recent cuts to higher education, increasing the value of the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and childcare tax credit, and expanding Medicaid to low-income adults would all be major improvements that would help the state invest in a more prosperous future.
The number of Louisianans living in poverty also highlights the importance of federal policies, including Social Security, Medicare, food stamps and federal tax credits for low-income workers. As the debate over the future of the federal budget continues, Louisiana’s congressional delegation needs to keep in mind how important these policies are for the well-being of the state’s children, families and the elderly.
Read more from the Louisiana Budget Project here, and click here for more from 24/7 Wall St.
MAY 22 This post was written the day after the second line shooting in NOLA, by Brentin Mock. Mock is a friend of Deb "Big Red" Cotton, a blogger who was shot in the back and was seriously injured. It is a raw, emotional piece of writing, something the writer obviously felt he needed to get off his chest. But it raises questions that can't be easily dismissed, and might give some insight into where the source of these events truly is.
MAY 22 In this Baton Rouge Business Report post, Rolfe McCollister considers the privatization of bus service in Baton Rouge. After decades of under-funding, it is a mess, and although a tax (partially) passed last year, improvement hasn't happened yet. McCollister apparently feels it is time to let private business get in on the transit business.
MAY 22 This post on Bayou Buzz by Jeff Crouere urges the defeat of a bill that would grant modest pay increases over the next several years to the state's judges and clerks of court. The state is in no position to fund pay hikes, Crouere argues, with the pay increases costing a total of $9 million over several years. It sends the wrong message to the (proverbial) hard-working people of Louisiana, he says.
MAY 22 The Advocate reports here that State Treasurer John Kennedy is complaining about a meeting of the corporation that oversees the state's tobacco settlement. The Governor wanted it restructured, and he has some support, but not a lot. The corporation agreed with his plan, but Kennedy didn't, and it appears that the meeting was noticed in a manner completely different than that of all previous meetings. Kennedy's given to hyperbole, but in this case the fish don't smell too fresh.
MAY 22 In this Advocate story, Carencro Police Chief Carlos Stout says the recent federal indictment of a strip club owner is all wrong. The indictment alleges that drugs and prostitution went on with impunity because club staff made arrangements with "local" police. Stout says it never happened, and while his cops do work security in the parking lot, they're not allowed inside.
MAY 22 This amusing post in DIG Baton Rouge recounts an ad that ran on Craig's List recently; the advertiser was seeking tenants for a Beauregard Town house. He knew his market, and wrote an ad that the most ironical hipster couldn't resist. Apparently, he really did know his market, because the ad worked like a charm.
MAY 22 In this post in The Lens, Mark Moseley comments on the rhetoric Gov. Jindal employed in trying to save his tax "reform" package. One interesting point concerns Jindal's use of his brother, Nikesh, in a little story. Nikesh left Louisiana because of his inability to get a decent job, the story goes, but the story won't hold water: Nikesh lives in DC, which has an income tax level comparable to Louisiana, Moseley says. If income taxes caused the dismal situation, it should exist in DC too. Right?
MAY 22 This post by columnist John Maginnis traces the trajectory of the bill that would fund construction at community and technical colleges -- and bypass the Board of Regents and traditional higher ed funding mechanisms. Sure, it will bust the legislature's self-imposed debt limit, but some leges feel that there's more need (because there is more growth) in the community and technical college area than in the university area, he says.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.