Post–Katrina Commuter Patterns: Based on 2008 Local Employment Dynamics data from the U.S. Census Bureau

In collaboration with The Urban Institute

Allison Plyer Elaine Ortiz Kathy Pettit

Published: Jan 15, 2010

More low–wage workers commute into Orleans Parish for work, than commute out. But of all metro area parishes, Jefferson has the largest net inflow of low-wage workers. Nearly 22,000 low–wage workers commute into Jefferson Parish for work — hundreds from as far away as St. John the Baptist Parish.


The Census Bureau and the State of Louisiana have teamed up to publish Local Employment Dynamics data — a robust new set of data on commuter patterns. By combining job location data (reported to the state by employers for unemployment insurance purposes) with worker residence data (from federal data sets such as IRS, Social Security, etc.) this new data set indicates where folks live compared to where they work — by low, moderate and high–wage levels.

In this brief, we explore where jobs of various wage levels are located and commuter patterns across the New Orleans metropolitan area. Specifically, we look at:

  • Job centers and bedroom communities
  • Location of low and moderate–wage jobs
  • Residency choices of high–earning workers
  • Low–wage labor flows to Orleans and Jefferson
  • Metro–wide commuting patterns among low–wage workers
  • Moderate–wage worker flows
  • Residency of Jefferson Parish’s low–wage labor force