Black New Orleanians have lower average incomes than both their white counterparts in the Crescent City and their Black counterparts in other major Southern metros. This wage disparity has damaging consequences to New Orleans’ economy and the individual families that makeup the city. A new report from The Data Center of Southeast Louisiana examines what leaders can do to close this gap. 

If Black incomes across Metro New Orleans were as high as their Black peers in Atlanta, Houston, Charlotte, or Nashville, the size of New Orleans’ economy measured in terms of output would increase between $3.3 billion and $5 billion annually. Raising incomes for Black New Orleanians to the level of their Black peers in other growing Southern metros will require broad private sector participation and policy changes that both increase wages and increase the share of Black New Orleanians actively participating in the workforce. 

Autoworkers go on strike
The United Auto Workers union launched a historic strike early Friday morning for better wages, benefits and work schedules. It’s the first time that UAW has striked against all three of Detroit’s biggest automakers at the same time. As the New York Times’ David Leonhardt explains, the work stoppage is part of a burst of labor activism bent on reversing the decades-long decline of unions and wage growth for workers. 

During the 1950s — a supposedly conformist decade — more than 1.5 million workers went on strike every year on average. The strikes helped create the American middle class. …The economic trends have been the opposite of what they were in the mid-20th century: Executive pay and corporate profits have grown faster than the American economy — and much faster than wages for rank-and-file workers. The current burst of labor activism, in the auto industry, Hollywood, Amazon warehouses, Starbucks stores and elsewhere, is an attempt to reverse these trends. 

We need to treat our teachers better
Teachers have had to navigate the classroom disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic and the learning loss that resulted. Educators were widely praised for these efforts at the beginning of the pandemic. But now there’s a conservative parents rights movement aimed at giving angry parents the power to overrule education experts on curriculum – such as opposing the teaching of slavery – and other decisions like vaccine mandates. The New York Times’ Jessica Grose reports that teachers are leaving the classroom while fewer people are entering the profession, and suggests some potential remedies. 

So what can be done to help get more teachers into the profession and keep them there? Cutting the costs of a teaching degree is one lever to pull, whether that’s through student loan forgiveness or college scholarships. … But perhaps just as important is that as a society we need to give teachers more respect. I heard from several teachers and education leaders that although there was an initial surge of support for teachers at the beginning of the pandemic, that dissolved over time. 

The Washington Post’s Jim Geraghty explains that teachers are too busy to be culture warriors:

After the hard lessons of online learning during the pandemic, lots of schools are trying to figure out how to integrate technology without having students staring at their screens all day. Countless teachers and administrators across the country are also no doubt trying to preserve school safety with reasonable and effective discipline policies, while also trying to ensure that students are challenged to perform to the best of their abilities. 

Replacing housing vouchers with cash assistance
Federal housing vouchers, commonly known as Section 8 vouchers, help millions of low- and moderate-income households afford rent each year. But getting a voucher can be cumbersome, and only 60% of approved applicants can find landlords willing to participate in the program. As Vox’s Rachel M. Cohen explains, a new study is seeking to see if replacing the traditional voucher system with a cash payment for rent could streamline the process and enable more people to find more and better housing. 

The proposed HUD study would look like this: Households selected from existing voucher waiting lists across a handful of diverse cities (ranging from smaller and suburban to dense and urban) would be randomly assigned to receive either the traditional housing choice voucher funded by HUD or a monthly payment for an equivalent value funded by philanthropy. The cash would not be unrestricted; it would need to go toward paying rent. Researchers would then be able to study and compare the two groups over time (HUD says ideally for four years) to assess key housing policy questions, like whether one group had more success landing an apartment and staying in their unit.

Number of the Day
24.4% – Louisiana’s official child poverty rate for 2022, a decline from 26.7% in the previous year. That’s a decrease of about 30,000 kids living below the poverty line. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau via LBP)