A report released Thursday by the Louisiana Budget Project says although worker productivity in the state is at an all-time high, wages remain stagnant and unemployment is on the rise.
The study reports median wages in Louisiana have only increased 1 percent since 1979 and even though the Bayou State fared The Great Recession better than most, the economic outlook remains bleak as wages are still falling and unemployment is on the rise.
According to the study, the wage decline from a pre-recession average of $15.56 in 2008 to $14.78 in 2012 was largely due to job losses in high-paying industries like manufacturing.
Additionally, the study says, unemployment is on the rise because Louisiana is struggling to create enough jobs to keep up with its growing population, and the private sector isn’t creating enough jobs to keep up with public-sector job cuts. The state’s unemployment rate was 7 percent in July 2013. Nearly 150,000 new jobs must be created by 2016, the study says, to bring the unemployment rate down to pre-recession levels of around 3.7 percent.
To help face these economic challenges, the Louisiana Budget Project - a non-profit that analyzes issues with a focus on the effects to low-to-moderate income families – suggests, among other things, establishing a state minimum wage that’s higher than the national rate and grows with inflation, and extending Medicaid coverage to low-income adults.