Remember When JBE Said Louisiana’s Economy Was The Best In The South? About That…

…it’s a claim that didn’t age particularly well, given the revisions to the GDP numbers the Bureau of Economic Analysis released last week. Those revisions don’t particularly support Gov. John Bel Edwards’ boasting of a “Top ten economy.” We’ll let the folks at the Pelican Institute pick up the story

Yesterday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its report of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by state for the second quarter of 2019. At first glance the report has middling news for the state of Louisiana. According to the report, the Pelican state saw growth of 1.7 percent. While lower than all its neighbors, it ranked Louisiana 29th overall and exactly in line with the Southeastern United States overall.

This fact has been widely reported, and even celebrated by some as proof that Louisiana is getting back on track and creating the jobs and opportunity this state has been sorely lacking.

But this most recent report by the BEA didn’t simply show the GDP around the country for the second quarter of 2019, it also revised its estimates for the first quarter of 2019. And for the state of the Louisiana, what a revision it was.

The first quarter growth was widely acknowledged, even by some skeptics,  as a good sign for the Louisiana economy with a reported growth of 3.8 percent. But this most recent report revises that growth number to a whopping 0 percent. Revisions are nothing new, after all measuring economic growth isn’t an exact science, but this revision is massive.

Averaging out the first two quarters of economic growth in 2019, Louisiana now ranks a paltry 42nd overall in terms of economic growth. This places Louisiana firmly last among southeastern states and yet again in the bottom 10 of a ranking in which Louisiana would prefer to be in the top 10.

This incident has two important lessons. Foremost, buying into economic data from only one quarterly report is likely to lead you astray. Due to how economic data is collected, its important to take a much longer-term view of any economy. Secondly, the long-term view of the Louisiana economy is not good.

In the same post, the Pelican Institute guys ran the numbers and concluded that, indexed to inflation, Louisiana’s economy is in a net decline since 2010. That’s something which puts not just John Bel Edwards but Bobby Jindal in a pretty bad light, as 2010 was about the time the Katrina recovery money ran out – and while Jindal was able to juice up the construction industry in the state by using economic development incentives to get some major petrochemical and other oil and gas-related industrial facilities built, it simply wasn’t enough to get real economic growth going. The fact Jindal was saddled with the Obama economy his entire second term also had much to do with his performance.

Edwards has presided over the loss of Jindal’s construction boom, and replaced it with…Medicaid expansion. Which is even less of an economic driver. He’s dragged the state into the doldrums with low standards, lies and a failed government-first mentality which simply cannot grow an economy.

Even had that 3.8 percent number for the first quarter held up, it would have been a dead cat bounce at best. Louisiana’s economy actually shrunk in both 2016 and 2017, and grew at only 1.1 percent last year. In the second quarter Louisiana grew at 1.7 percent, which is a little better than its other recent performances but a bit closer to zero than to 3.8.

But Edwards ran all around the state touting that one quarterly growth figure, which was not representative of a trend in the state’s economy, as a measure of what a great job he’s doing. That his words would hang him would only reflect justice for someone who has shown himself to be an exceedingly poor leader.

We can say that both Jindal and Edwards were failed governors, for different reasons. Jindal’s second term was a failure because he neglected his job and decided to run for president, rather than buckle down and do the real fundamental reform Louisiana needs to compete in the 21st century economy. Edwards’ first term has been a failure because he was never interested in that reform at all.

Nothing of value will happen without a major change at the top. We aren’t here to tell you Eddie Rispone offers all the answers. All we can say is at least there’s a chance he can turn things around. Edwards offers four more years of the same rotten economy – and the same rotten, dishonest, wasteful and corrupt leadership.

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