The majority of Louisiana’s parishes or counties’ population continues to shrink. Its 2020 consensus reflects a downward population trend, which some experts think may be influenced by the impacts of the pandemic and extreme events such as Hurricane Laura that hit the state in August 2020 (Adelson, 2022).
In 2021, Louisiana’s population decline made it the fifth-highest state in population loss. In total, the state saw a 27,000 loss of population in 2021 and 33,700 since the 2020 census as residents are moving out of the state. The number of those moving out is much higher than that of 2,700 gained from people who migrated to the state from other countries (Adelson, 2021).
The population decline was also seen in many parishes across the states. Of the state’s 64 parishes, 50 saw their population dwindle, with the exceptions in the outer-ring suburbs around New Orleans.
Besides more people leaving than moving in the state, some parishes also see higher death rates and lower birth rates. New Orleans has only about 125 more births than deaths; in Jefferson, birth outpaced deaths by only around 230.
When it comes to the impacts of the pandemic, the state was one of the worst hit. They have the highest number of job losses in the country, poor healthcare service in many parts of the state, and the highest number of adults with anxiety or depression – the rating has tripled since Covid came.
Other than the impacts of the pandemic and the recent hurricanes, are there other factors that drive Louisiana’s dwindling population?
The Biz article, “La. Has to Solve Education, Infrastructure and Tax Problems to Avoid ‘Brain Drain,'” revealed the reasons behind the outmigration in the state.
According to Guy Williams, president, and CEO of Gulf Coast Bank & Trust and article author, “For years, Louisiana has under-invested in education, failed to keep up with infrastructure needs, and tolerated a tax system that is overly complex and makes us look uncompetitive.”
The state school system fails to equip students to succeed in the digital world. Underinvestment in digital technology education at the university level means their qualified teachers are moving to more competitive states.
“Louisiana’s infrastructure challenges are visible daily, from flooding streets to road congestion, bridge failures, and potholes.”
The tax system needs reform. The article argues that if Louisiana could do away with income tax like what growing states such as Texas, Florida, and Tennessee are doing, it would attract more businesses rather than drive them away to these no-income-tax states.
The article says that when the state begins to fix these three main issues – infrastructure problems, education, and tax system- the state can become a leader in prosperity and growth. Otherwise, they can say goodbye from atop their Mardi Gras floats.
Declining populations also impact developing countries like Japan, Germany, and Korea.
Depopulation can affect infrastructure quality and service levels because it can shrink tax bases and decrease the funding available, making it very costly to maintain, repair, and replace infrastructure.
When this happens, cities or local governments will have to plan on how to meet infrastructure maintenance needs in communities with fewer residents.
This is one of the most complex scenarios to deal with in Infrastructure Asset Management, which requires sustained and careful management practices.
Adelson, J. (2021, December 22). Louisiana saw fifth highest population loss in U.S. in 2021, according to new estimates. NOLA.com. Retrieved from https://www.nola.com/news/politics/article_c9a00050-637b-11ec-a1a3-773fc5fa7af3.html
Adelson, J. (2022, March 25). Population declines in most Louisiana parishes, except for the suburbs, new estimates show. NOLA.com. Retrieved from https://www.nola.com/news/politics/article_fc5ff816-aba5-11ec-b605-234640609e50.html
Williams, G. (2022, March 9). La. Has to Solve Education, Infrastructure, and Tax Problems to Avoid ‘Brain Drain.’ Biz New Orleans. Retrieved from https://www.bizneworleans.com/la-has-to-solve-education-infrastructure-and-tax-problems-to-avoid-brain-drain/