The New Orleans Index at Ten Collection: Persistent Low Wages in New Orleans’ Economic Resurgence: Policies for Improving Earnings for the Working Poor

Report by Marla Nelson, Laura Wolf-Powers, Jessica Fisch
August 5, 2015

Ten years after Katrina, New Orleans has seen an economic resurgence, but too many jobs pay low wages . Many workers are traveling long distances to jobs for stagnant pay. In six out of seven parishes, out-commuting has increased since 2002, and many low-wage workers live in “wage deserts,” areas with high concentrations of other low-wage workers. This essay lays out specific policies to alleviate working poverty and lift the working poor into the middle class. Improving outcomes for low-earning workers is complex and will require significant investment, but if leaders make these investments, job openings in high-growth occupations can be filled by locals. With a more connected, better-resourced workforce, more New Orleanians will be able to participate in the post-Katrina economic renaissance.