Petrochemical plants along Louisiana’s Cancer Alley are mostly located in Black communities, but most of the workers that companies hire are white, according to new research from Tulane University. While the report noted that people of color were underrepresented in high-paying jobs in both the chemical manufacturing and petroleum/coal industry nationwide, Louisiana was the only state where workers of color were underrepresented in both high-paying and low-paying jobs. Floodlight’s Terry L. Jones reports

For advocates there, this new report is proof that the good jobs are going to white people while much of the toxic emissions and health risks are being endured by people living in the surrounding communities, which tend to be low income or predominantly minority. … Ashley Shelton, founder and chief executive officer of statewide lobbying nonprofit The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, praised the study for proving what she and most Louisiana advocates have known for quite some time. 

Oil and gas companies often argue that the pollution they cause and the tax breaks they receive are worth it because of the jobs they create. The Tulane researchers say state leaders overestimate the economic impact of these lucrative tax breaks: 

Researchers found that between 2010 and 2022, the petroleum industry in St. John the Baptist Parish got $19 million in first-year tax credits but created no new direct jobs. 

Gov. Jeff Landry recently nixed a requirement that companies must create new jobs if they receive property tax exemptions through the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program.

Decades of “business friendly” policies in Southern states, such as corporate tax incentives, low regulation and low wages, have failed to benefit workers in the region and reduce poverty rates. A recent report from the Economic Policy Institute explained the racist roots of this ineffective economic model. A new report from EPI examines its consequences: 

In this report we have shown that Southern states are overrepresented among states with the lowest per capita GDP; that job growth across the South has failed to keep up with growth in the working-age population; and that the South lags in labor force participation and prime-age EPOP. The apparent lower levels of unemployment across the region are misleading, because the low labor force participation rate and the prime-age employment-to-population ratio show that smaller shares of the available workforce are employed in the South relative to other regions. 

Congress is currently hammering out details for the farm bill, a multi-year law that includes funding and rules for agriculture and food programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. While SNAP has proven to be one of the most effective tools at fighting poverty, the program is in the crosshairs of some GOP lawmakers who want to cut benefits, impose work requirements and give states greater leeway to determine eligibility. A Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate editorial urges lawmakers to stop playing games and renew the farm bill: 

Though it occupies only a handful of pages in the nearly 1,000-page bill, about 41 million Americans rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, including about 801,000 people in Louisiana. That’s almost 1 in 5 residents of our state, many of them children. … We cheered when the Legislature reversed a decision by Gov. Jeff Landry not to fund a summer food program for students that drew largely on federal funds. Now, we urge Congress — and especially Speaker Mike Johnson and Majority Leader Steve Scalise, both of Louisiana — to act quickly and bring a farm bill renewal before the House and get it passed.

Small and midsized cities, defined as central cities with populations between 50,000 and 500,000, have struggled to create racially inclusive economic growth. The Brookings Institution has created the Regional Inclusive Growth Network, a group of business and civic leaders that includes the Urban League of Louisiana, to help close this gap. Brookings’ Joseph Parilla, Mayu Takeuchi and Xavier de Souza Briggs elaborate on this effort

First, SMCs, which have lagged the innovation and growth of large metropolitan economies in recent decades, are now ground zero for realizing the promise of inclusive economic growth in America. But key constraints—including smaller talent pools and asset bases, plus the legacies of structural racism—stifle these regions’ potential. Second, in the face of changing business norms and evolving headwinds facing equity and inclusion, civic leaders in SMCs have a new window of opportunity to engage the private sector as key drivers of racially inclusive economic growth. 

$0.40 – Louisiana’s beer excise tax rate per gallon. The Pelican State’s beer tax ranks 15th nationally. (Sources: Distilled Spirits Council of the United States; Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau; state revenue departments via the Tax Foundation)