The latest “Katrina Index,” a measure of economic conditions and reconstruction activity in storm-damaged Gulf Coast communities, notes that about 750,000 households remain displaced by Hurricane Katrina, and Louisiana has lost more than 100,000 people in its labor force.
Created by the Brookings Institute, a nonprofit public policy group, the index launched in December.
“Demand for essential services in New Orleans continues to overwhelm the supply,” according to a Brookings announcement about the February index. “Only 32 percent of the city’s hospitals are open, and waits for emergency room visits have exceeded six hours. Over 9,000 children have now enrolled in the city’s schools but only 15 percent have reopened and some of those are reporting difficulty accommodating demand. Electricity has been restored to about 95 percent of former customers, but power is only being used by 30-35 percent of the former customers, as many customers have either not returned or wait for the city to certify the safety of their electricity connections.
“The dramatic drop in the unemployment rate is almost entirely due to a decrease in the size of the labor force in New Orleans and Louisiana. In particular, the metro area lost 42,000 people in its labor force between November and December, while the state of Louisiana lost over 100,000 people,” the report also notes.
Louisiana created over 11,000 jobs between November and December, but lost over 100,000 people in its labor force. Mississippi lost 2,000 jobs and about 2,000 of its labor force, the institute reported.
Of the displaced households, about 650,000 are receiving about $800 a month in rental assistance. “Mortgage delinquency rates skyrocketed between the second and third quarter of the calendar year. In the state of Louisiana, for instance, nearly one out of every four loans is now 30 or more days past due,” according to the report.
“The slow pace of recovery on fundamentals strongly suggests that the city and state will be unable to restore essential services on their own, and require direct federal assistance to do so. Meanwhile, the wellbeing of the nearly 750,000 households that remain displaced by Katrina is essentially not known. With New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mississippi still facing massive economic and infrastructural challenges, it is likely that many of these households will need federal assistance for many months to come,” the institute concludes.
The index tracks about 50 economic and social indicators that measure the impact of rebuilding activity in Orleans Parish, the New Orleans metro area, Louisiana and Mississippi. Among the statistics tracked in the Katrina Index: Median existing home price; median household income; delinquency and foreclosure rates; average weekly wages; number of non-farm-employed people; number of mortgage originations, by type; number of hotel units being occupied; number of single-family homes; number of multifamily homes; number of owner-occupied homes; number of renter occupied homes; and total net migration.
The “Iraq Index,” a separate index developed through the Brookings Institute to measure progress in rebuilding Iraq, served as the inspiration for the Katrina Index.
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