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Wed August 14, 2013

Hurricane Katrina Report: Economic Ups And Downs 8 Years Later

Community Data Center Chief Demographer Allison Plyer reviews the latest report.

It’s been eight years this month since Hurricane Katrina. The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center has been measuring data to see how far the recovery has come, and where the city is heading.

Allison Plyer, a principal author of the latest report on the recovery, says there is some good news — especially when comparing New Orleans with other Southern metro regions with more than a million people that have experienced more than 10 percent job growth since 2000.

They’re called “aspirational metro areas.”

“A lot of people have wondered how we’ve done during the recession and was that just about rebuilding," Plyer said. "But what we found was when we compared ourselves to fast-growing, aspirational Southern metros like Austin, Raleigh, Charlotte, Nashville — we’ve actually have had similar job growth rates to theirs since 2008.”

She says that’s important because it shows economic growth that isn’t solely dependent on federal grants after Katrina.

Then, there’s some bad news.

That economic growth isn’t showing up for everyone.

“Black, working-age men, for example, are employed at about 53 percent across the metro, and in aspirational metros that’s 61 percent," Plyer said. "And we have a larger share of our working-age population are African-American here than in aspirational metros, so for us it’s even more important that we boost the employment rates in those groups.”

The report recommends a more diverse job base and improvements in adult education. Plyer says those goals can be combined with restoring wetlands.

“It’s going to require ingenuity and innovation and those qualities can spawn new markets,” she said.

The next report is due on the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.