Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New Report on Employment in Louisiana's Coastal Communities

Greater New Orleans Community Data Center (GNOCDC), always a crucial resource for information about our region, has released an important new report on the state of jobs on Louisiana's southern coast before BP's Drilling Disaster. According to the folks at GNOCDC:
"Measure. Measure. Measure.” That’s what our new friends from Prince William Sound have counseled their Gulf Coast colleagues. And we take their experience-based counsel quite seriously.

Today we’re releasing a brief on the number of jobs and workers living in coastal parishes prior to the oil disaster. This data is meant to serve as a baseline against which the impact of the oil spill can eventually be measured.

In addition, it provides much needed information on residential patterns along the coast, many months before the Census 2010 headcounts are to be released. This data can be useful for nonprofits and state agencies planning services for coastal populations.
The GNOCDC report provides the following background:

Millions of barrels of oil have idled commercial and sport fishing operations throughout southeastern Louisiana coastal waters since the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster of April 20, 2010. Businesses that serve the fishing industry, or buy their harvests, have similarly been affected. Among them are tackle shops, net makers, gas stations, restaurants, truckers, and seafood processors and distributors. Such is also the case for the travel and tourism sector, particularly in places such as Grand Isle which depends on summertime recreationists, although clean–up–related travel may partially offset such losses.

A moratorium on deepwater oil drilling will likely have an even greater economic impact throughout coastal Louisiana. Rig workers and oil–service operations will see fewer and smaller paychecks, and thus will inject less money into coastal economies. It is safe to say that nearly every business in coastal southeastern Louisiana will feel some effect of the oil disaster.

What impact will the oil disaster have on coastal Louisiana’s jobs? It is too soon to answer that question. We can, however, investigate the geography and nature of coastal employment prior to 2010 to create a baseline against which this unfurling situation and its eventual impacts on jobs may be compared.

This brief examines where jobs were located prior to the oil disaster in 2008 (the most recent available data) and what economic sectors they represented throughout the coastal region. While some maps cover from the Texas border all the way to Alabama, the brief primarily focuses on the coastal southeastern Louisiana parishes closest to the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil well.

Among the findings from the report:

*High concentrations of jobs appeared in many coastal areas prior to the oil disaster. In fact, the coastal periphery was second only to urban areas as employment nodes.
*Plaquemines Parish was home to 11,687 jobs but only 6,950 resident workers in 2008, indicating that people in neighboring parishes rely on this especially vulnerable parish for their livelihood. Oil-related impacts on the economy of Plaquemines parish, therefore, could reverberate region-wide.
*In Lafourche Parish, worker residences were more clustered in northern and central areas, while jobs tended to locate at the southern end—namely Port Fourchon, a key node in the regional petroleum and offshore economy.
*Among southeast Louisiana parishes, Terrebonne had the highest absolute number (6,089) and percent (11.5) of jobs in the oil and gas industry, far more than even the urbanized New Orleans metro parishes with much-larger populations. These jobs were particularly concentrated in two Houma zip codes that together are home to over 5,500 such jobs—more than double the number of oil and gas jobs in downtown New Orleans.

This report "Is based on 2008 Census Bureau data from company payrolls. As such it does not capture the thousands of self-employed fishermen not included in company payroll data—indicating that coastal Louisiana is even more important to job creation than our numbers suggest."

See the full report at the GNOCDC website.

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