After eight years of Bobby Jindal’s whiz-kid ALEC-backed policies of awarding tax incentives, exemptions, and inducements to the business and industry lobby and his constant boasting to Iowans and to Fox News of his smashing successes, Louisiana remains mired as the second-worst state in the nation for business.
So says the latest report of 24/7 Wall St., a financial news and opinion company headquartered in Delaware which publishes more than 30 articles per days on economics, health, and politics.
For its most recent survey, 24/7 compiled 47 measures into eight separate categories to determine the business climate for each state: business costs, cost of living, economy, infrastructure, labor and human capital, quality of life, regulation, and technology and innovation.
The U.S. has seen 71 consecutive months of private sector job growth through January, the report noted. Despite the consistent improvement, which dates back to February 2009 (the month after Jindal was first sworn in as governor), the recovery has been uneven and some states have experienced substantially less growth than others.
One of those is Louisiana, where the gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 1.5 percent was 21st lowest in the nation and average wages and salaries of $46,136 was 24th lowest.
Both of those ratings put the state at about the middle of the pack but other indicators showed a much bleaker picture. But only one other state, Maine, has experienced an annualized GDP decline over the past five years.
The 434 patents issued to residents in 2014 was 14th lowest in the nation. The projected working-age population growth through the year 2020 of minus 3.2 percent was seventh lowest and the 22.9 percent of adults with bachelor’s degrees was fifth lowest.
A decreasing working-age population, combined with the relatively low educational attainment means trouble for employers to fill positions with qualified job candidates. That could explain the high number of tax incentives to industries with low-paying, unskilled workers such as chicken plants and Wal Marts.
Almost 20 percent of Louisiana’s population lives below the poverty line, a statistic Jindal refused to address during his entire eight years of running for president. Moreover, the state unemployment rate was 6.4 percent. Both figures are higher than the national rates.
So, if Louisiana was second worst for business, which state was worst? Well, this time it wasn’t Mississippi which traditionally holds down the anchor spot. In this case it was West Virginia with lower GDP growth, lower average salaries, lower percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree (actually the lowest), lower number of patents issued to residents and a lower projected working-age population growth than Louisiana.
The best state for business? That would be Utah. Where Louisiana and West Virginia each had a minus projected working-age population growth rate, Utah’s projected working-age population growth of 20.5 percent was second-highest. Despite the healthy projected population growth, Utah had an unemployment rate of 3.8 percent, fourth lowest in the nation.
Just more evidence of how Jindal was perfectly willing to twist and distort numbers to fit his ambitious but hopeless agenda.
Does anyone still wonder whether he was simply clueless or callously committed to his own ambitions?