As if you didn’t already know that Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ “business summit” last week, at which he crowed about the “big victory” the state was earning on the economic playing field in front of a crowd of campaign contributors, state officials and cronies, was a load of bovine scatology, along comes the federal government to pour cold water on his head.
It turns out that the state’s quarterly GDP growth in the third quarter took a serious dive, wiping out Edwards’ narrative that Louisiana’s economy is roaring back from the recession he’s been blaming on his predecessor Bobby Jindal.
Following higher-than-average growth in the first half of 2018, Louisiana’s gross domestic product increased by 1.9% in the third quarter of the year, falling below the national state average of 3.4%.
That places Louisiana’s third-quarter GDP growth among the slowest in the nation, 44th out of all states, according to a report released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The first half of 2018, though, was markedly better for the state. Louisiana posted a growth rate of 4.7% in the first quarter—among the highest in the nation—and 4.3% in the second quarter, slightly higher than the average increase of 4.2%.
Louisiana’s GDP—a major economic indicator that measures the value of all goods and services produced in a defined area—rose to more than $252 billion in the third quarter, making up 1.2% of U.S. GDP.
Laughably, here was Edwards’ reaction to the news…
“Louisiana enjoyed another quarter of economic growth, with a GDP that is higher than ever recorded,” Gov. John Bel Edwards says in a statement, reiterating previous comments that the growth shows the state is “headed in the right direction.”
“Still we know there is more work to be done,” he goes on to say. “We remain concerned about the impacts of tariffs on our economy and hope that our farmers and agribusinesses will see some relief soon.”
So he’s blaming Trump, whose economic performance is the best of any American president so far since perhaps Ronald Reagan, for the state’s lack of economic competitiveness.
It turns out that slow performance in the agricultural sector (-0.3 percent) – which had to do with an especially rainy fall which interfered with crop harvests – wasn’t the only rough aspect of Louisiana’s third quarter economic growth. Oil and gas also took a dump, shrinking by 0.26 percent. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to recruit a cabal of trial lawyers to sue all the oil and gas companies after all, seeing as though the industry is all but dead in the state now.
How does Louisiana compare to its neighbors? Well, Arkansas and Mississippi both grew by the same 1.9 percent figure Louisiana did in the third quarter. But Texas grew by 3.7 percent, which is a slow number for the Lone Star State, and Florida grew by 3.8 percent. Georgia grew by 3.6 percent, Tennessee by 3.1 percent and Alabama by 2.7 percent.
We’ve said this over and over again, and outmigration trends bear it out – when the national economy is growing at 1 percent and you’re growing at a half-percent it’s bad, but it’s not devastating in terms of people leaving your state. Their opportunities aren’t all that much better elsewhere. But when you’re growing at 1.5 percent and everybody else is growing at 4 percent, that’s when you’ve got real trouble – because people don’t have to go far to find better opportunities.
And that’s where we are. Thanks to the tax increases and lousy economic policies of Edwards and his allies in the state legislature, made worse by the idiocy of local governments in places like Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport and elsewhere, Louisiana isn’t competitive with Texas, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida – and Louisianans are busy moving to those more prosperous states. Since Edwards was inaugurated some 66,000 more people have left Louisiana than have moved in, and the growth figures are part and parcel of that.
It’s a problem whose only solution is new management and a new approach to economic growth. All the ridiculous “business summits” in the world won’t fix it so long as John Bel Edwards and his leftist mentality holds sway at the State Capitol.