In Advocate Capitol news bureau Editor Mark Ballard’s Oct. 2 column, “The issue is jobs — only jobs,” he cherry-picks data to suggest that Louisiana’s economy has performed poorly, yet a wide variety of credible statistics prove a much different reality. Since January 2008, Louisiana has endured both a deep national recession and economically damaging policies of the Obama administration, yet our economy has significantly outperformed the South and the United States.
Ballard’s column referenced Local Area Unemployment Statistics data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to describe employment changes in Louisiana. However, BLS says that a more consistent measure of employment, with a smaller margin of error, is its Current Employment Statistics data. The Congressional Budget Office, Council of Economic Advisors, Federal Reserve and a wide variety of national news organizations consistently utilize CES data from BLS as the most reliable source of employment data.
According to CES employment data from BLS, Louisiana has added 40,000 private-sector jobs during the past year, and our state has just experienced 11 straight months of year-over-year growth in private-sector jobs. In fact, Louisiana has had the second-best employment performance in the South since January 2008.
Louisiana’s unemployment rate (7.2 percent) continues to drop, and it has remained well below the South and United States since January 2008. Our unemployment rate today is third-lowest in the South, while most Southern states have unemployment rates of 9.5 to 11.1 percent.
Per-capita income here rose by about $1,200 during the past four years, and our state’s per-capita income has increased to its highest ranking in at least 80 years.
Louisiana recently experienced its fourth consecutive year of net population in-migration, which followed more than 20 consecutive years of out-migration. People are moving here in part because our job market is stronger than in many other states.
One major reason Louisiana’s economy has outperformed the South and United States since January 2008 is that we helped secure projects that are creating more than 45,000 new jobs and $10 billion in capital investment, as well as hundreds of millions in new sales for small businesses across Louisiana. According to Southern Business & Development, Louisiana attracted more significant business development projects per capita than any other Southern state for the past three consecutive years.
These economic development wins have happened in part because of our state’s recent policy reforms, which have enabled Louisiana’s improvement to its highest-ever position in every national ranking of state business climates.
The bottom line is that Louisiana’s economy has significantly outperformed the South and United States since January 2008. More work remains to be done to create an economy here that regularly creates jobs at a faster pace than the South and United States.
Stephen Moret, secretary
Louisiana Department of Economic Development