That isn’t quite the narrative Louisiana’s governor John Bel Edwards is trying to pass around as he runs for re-election, is it?
Edwards is telling anyone who’ll listen that Louisiana’s economy is heating up and that the state is prospering under his tax increases and government spending binge. But when the final 2018 GDP numbers, as released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, came out Louisiana’s economy grew by just 1.1 percent, less than half the national average and little more than a third of the state’s major Southern competitors Tennessee (3 percent), Georgia (2.6 percent), Texas (3.2 percent) and Florida (3.5 percent). That, after Louisiana was the only state economy to shrink two years in a row in 2016 and 2017 – Edwards’ first two years in office.
The governor simply hasn’t told the truth about the state’s economic performance. The problem is, there are lots of independent sources for economic data, and he can’t control those.
One of which is WalletHub, whose never-ending state rankings come out so frequently they’re easy to miss. This one isn’t, though – it’s a very damning look at the state’s economy.
Louisiana ranks 47th in WalletHub’s “2019’s Best & Worst States for Jobs” ratings, with a score of 43.91. The state ranks 43rd in “job market” but 50th in “economic environment.”
Massachusetts ranked first, with a 71.88 score. Texas was the highest Southern state, with a 60.10 score and in 12th place. Tennessee was 17th and Florida 21st.
Louisiana’s numbers per WalletHub’s study were, not surprisingly, all bad…
- 47th – Job Opportunities
- 39th – Employment Growth
- 47th – Unemployment Rate
- 42nd – Median Annual Income (Adjusted for Cost of Living)
- 46th – Avg. Length of Work Week (in Hours)
- 32nd – Avg. Commute Time (in Minutes)
- 47th – Job Satisfaction
There’s an entire description of the methodology for these rankings and how WalletHub arrived at its scores, but nobody is seriously going to argue this ranking is incorrect. We know it isn’t.
After all, Louisiana’s unemployment rate for April was 4.5 percent, ranking the state 44th. That comes following three years of large-scale outmigration, where more than 68,000 more people left Louisiana than moved in – which shrank Louisiana’s labor force and one would assume depressed the unemployment rate from what would have been a lot larger number.
Not to mention that Louisiana’s U-6 unemployment number (U-6 is the measure of “total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers”) at the end of the first quarter was 9.5 percent. Compare that to our Southern neighbors…
- Alabama – 7.6 percent;
- Arkansas – 7.5 percent;
- Florida – 7.5 percent;
- Georgia – 7.9 percent;
- Kentucky – 8.3 percent;
- Mississippi – 9.2 percent;
- North Carolina – 7.5 percent;
- South Carolina – 6.6 percent;
- Tennessee – 6.5 percent;
- Texas – 7.3 percent.
Yeah, fourth from the bottom sounds about right where Louisiana and jobs are concerned. No amount of campaign rhetoric and funny math out of the governor’s re-election campaign can mask that.