Rent and home prices are on the rise in the New Orleans area as housing rehabilitation and demolition are under way, the Brookings Institution reports in a one-year review.

“Across the most hard-hit parishes in the New Orleans area, the pace of demolitions has accelerated in the last six months while the number of permits issued for rehab has nearly doubled in the city,” according to the “One-Year Review of Key Indicators of Recovery in Post-Storm New Orleans” report.

“Yet, housing is less affordable as rent prices in the region have increased by 39 percent over the year and home-sale prices have spiked in suburban parishes.”

Public services and infrastructure remains “thin and slow to rebound,” the report also states, with about half of the bus and streetcar routes in operation. About 17 percent of buses are in use; gas service is reaching about 41 percent of the pre-Katrina customer base; and electricity services reach about 60 percent of this total.

The labor force in the New Orleans region is 30 percent smaller today than one year ago, the report also states, and has grown slowly over the last six months. The unemployment rate remains higher than it was before the hurricane hit. The New Orleans metro area lost 190,000 workers over the past year, with the health and education services industries suffering the largest percentage declines, the report states.

In the past six months, the region has seen a 3.4 percent increase in jobs, “but much of that may reflect the rise in new job seekers,” the report states. The unemployment rate is now 7.2 percent higher than it was in August 2005.

Since last August, more than $100 billion in federal aid has been dedicated to serve families and communities impacted by hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. To date, the federal government has approved approximately $107 billion in federal aid to the Gulf Coast states most impacted by the storms. Of these funds, nearly half has been dedicated to emergency and longer-term housing, the report states.

An estimated 278,000 workers are still displaced by the storm, and 23 percent of this total remain unemployed.

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