In assessing progress or lack of Progress the Data Center compares “indicators for the New Orleans metro with that of a peer group of postindustrial metros with which New Orleans was identified pre-2000, and separately with a group of aspirational Southern metros that have experienced enviable economic growth since 2000.”
Following are a few excerpts:
As of July 2012, the US Census Bureau estimated New Orleans’ population at 369,250, or 76 percent of its 2000 population of 484,674. The metro area, with 1,205,374 residents, has 92 percent of its 2000 population of 1,316,510.
By 2012, the New Orleans metro had recouped all its recession-era losses and reached 1 percent above its 2008 job level, close to the aspirational metros which had reached 2 percent above their 2008 job level. In contrast, the nation and weaker post-industrial metros remained more than 2 percent below their 2008 job levels.
While median household income in the New Orleans metro fell 8 percent from 1999 to 2011, it fell more sharply (11 percent) nationwide over the same time frame.
As the metro’s minority share of the population fell post-Katrina, our share of all businesses that are minority-owned continued to rise, maintaining our advantage over the rest of the nation at 27 versus 21 percent.
Crime rates have declined to lower than pre-Katrina levels, but the city’s 2011 crime rates remain significantly higher than the national averages for both violent and property crimes.
Since 2004, the share of renters in the city of New Orleans paying unaffordable housing costs has spiked from 43 percent to 54 percent. City renters have historically struggled to afford housing costs compared to their national peers. As incomes declined during the 1980’s oil bust, the share of renters paying at least 35 percent of their household income on housing — a threshold considered unaffordable — increased. As incomes increased during the 1990s, that share declined. Since Katrina and the onset of the Great Recession, higher rents compounded by lower household incomes have contributed to a spike in the share of city renters paying unaffordable housing costs. As of 2011, a full 54 percent of city renters were spending more than 35 percent of their household income on housing and utilities compared to 44 percent of renters nationally. New Orleans homeowners also struggle more than their national peers to afford housing costs. In the city, 27 percent of homeowners spend more than 35 percent of pre-tax household income on their mortgage, taxes, utilities, and insurance compared to only 23 percent of homeowners nationwide.
Between 1932 and 2010, the New Orleans region lost 948 square miles of coastal wetlands, which is nearly 30 percent of the wetlands that protect the New Orleans area from hurricane storm surge. Coastal wetlands in the Breton Sound, Barataria Basin, Mississippi River Delta Basin, and Pontchartrain Basin are the primary line of defense against hurricanes for New Orleans area residents. However, 78 years of recorded measurements reveal that nearly 30 percent of these protective wetlands have been lost — due in part to flood control projects on the Mississippi River that have starved the wetlands of sediment deposits and fresh water. Hurricanes and the construction of navigational canals by the oil and gas industry have also damaged wetlands. The slight increase in coastal wetlands from 2009 to 2010 may indicate recovery from recent hurricanes. However, it is too soon to determine if these gains are permanent or environmental variability.
Much more in The New Orleans Index at Eight.