July 10, 2012
We’re not surprised that a recent national report ranked Louisiana 11th in the nation in the financial insecurity of its residents. Poverty is a large problem in Louisiana, and in a recession the poor tend to get poorer.
The global recession has touched many families, of course, including households that had fared quite well before the recession struck. But the poor and uneducated, not surprisingly, are the most vulnerable when the economy sours.
One in five Louisiana residents lost at least a quarter of his available income between 2008 and 2012, according to an economic insecurity index released by the Rockefeller Foundation and Yale University. Index researcher Stuart Craig said that those who lost income could include everyone from the working poor to middle-class residents hit by a layoff to a wealthier family suffering losses in the stock market. But Craig noted that higher economic insecurity is correlated with lower education levels.
That makes sense. Workers with more education have more options in finding other work when the economy contracts. This kind of flexibility is increasingly important as the global economy continues to evolve.
Where does that leave Louisiana, where state spending on higher education has been drastically cut in recent years? That kind of short-sighted thinking seems like a prescription for continuing economic insecurity among our residents for years to come, even as the world economy improves.