Potential Economic Impact of Increasing Income for Black New Orleanians
Published: Sep 13, 2023
Black income in Metro New Orleans is not only well below White income locally, but it is well below incomes of Black peers in comparison metros. Notably, if Black per capita income locally equaled that of Metro Atlanta’s Black population, Metro New Orleans’ total Black income would be 22 percent higher than it is currently and the GDP of Metro New Orleans would increase by an estimated $5 billion. If Black per capita income locally equaled Metro Houston, New Orleans’ Black income would increase by 15.6 percent and local GDP would increase by $3.3 billion. This brief highlights actions that civic leaders can take to both expand the share of Black New Orleanians who are working and increase their income.
Growing inequality in the U.S. was gaining increasing attention well before the COVID-19 shutdown and racial reckoning of 2020. But as recently as the 3rd quarter of 2022, when the national unemployment rate was as low as 3.7 percent and employers were struggling to find workers, the median wages of White full-time workers in the U.S. continue to be 25 percent higher than that of Black full-time workers. According to the most recent data for New Orleans, Black households had median incomes that were 64 percent less than White households in 2021. Given the entrenched nature of racial income disparities across the nation, raising Black income to the same level as White income in Metro New Orleans may seem daunting. While income parity is certainly a worthwhile goal, solving this systemic disparity may therefore benefit from an incremental approach. Thus, as a first step, this report quantifies the economic impact of increasing Black incomes in Metro New Orleans to the level of Black households in comparable Southern metros, and highlights actions that civic leaders can take to both expand the share of Black New Orleanians who are working and increase their income.
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