Yet despite all positive signs, it may be too early to proclaim, as some boosters do, a “New Orleans miracle.” After all, the city’s population remains over 100,000 below its depressed pre-Katrina levels. There are still over 47,000 vacant housing units in the city, many of the uninhabitable, notes Allison Plyer, who runs the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. Overall, the recovery remains stronger in the suburbs, many of which suffered less damage from the storm. The share of regional population living in Orleans Parish, where the city of New Orleans is located, has slipped to 29% compared with 37% in 2000. Jefferson Parrish now has more jobs than the city across all income categories.
Plyer believes the priority for the entire region lies in restoring the higher-paid blue-collar and middle-class jobs that for decades have disappeared from the city. Young tech and media firms can help gentrify parts of a city, but they are not sufficient to provide opportunities to the vast majority of its residents. To do this, Plyer suggests, the region will have to focus more on “export” oriented jobs in industries such as energy, manufacturing and trade.
Critically these fields can provide decent salaries for a broad swath of workers. Right now, Plyer adds, 45% of the workforce earns less than $35,000 a year, one byproduct of the domination of the generally low-paying tourism industry.
Yeah well try telling that to the Mayor who is apparently content to keep on selling that "culture".