"second worst in the U.S. behind Atlanta in income inequality. Although second worst, income inequality in New Orleans has increased at a faster rate."
Then there is New Orleans entrepreneurial start-up rate that continues to expand, reaching 501 business start-ups per 100,000 adults in the three-year period ending in 2012 - a rate that exceeds the nation by 56 percent.
Are these statistics related? How we can have more new businesses and poverty and income inequality rising simultaneously?
A look at just the restaurant sector of the tourism and hospitality industry highlights the disparities between the city's owning class and working class ~
Restaurant workers experience poverty at nearly three times the rate of workers overall, and workers of color experience poverty at nearly twice the rate of white restaurant workers.
Sixty-one percent of workers of color who work as bartenders and servers earn below twice the poverty level, compared to 48% of white workers.
Twenty-five percent of Black workers and 23% of Latino workers are unemployed, compared
to only 3% of white workers, among bartenders and servers currently on the job market.
Workers at or below twice the poverty level
Like restaurant and other tourism and hospitality workers, creative workers in arts. music and culture, exploitation, labor abuse, wage theft, marginalization and poverty is rampant. For instance, for indigenous cultural workers:
• 42% of the African American indigenous cultural community is not employed or is out of the labor force (including retired); 13% for whites.
• Average household incomes of culture producers is approximately $24,000.
Within neighborhoods along the Claiborne Corridor, some of the city's most significant in terms of the production of the creative cultural products and services the city and its tourism industry most rely upon, 38% of households live at or below the poverty line, compared to 21% of all New Orleans residents.
Adding to the social and economic stress these working families experience is rapid gentrification and the housing speculation that goes along with, causing rents to rise -Figures for 2011 showed that 54% of renters in the city were paying more than 35 percent of their pre–tax income on rent and utilities in 2011, up from 43 percent of renters in 2004. Meanwhile, it's still on the rise, while wages remain stagnant ~ "Average renters in New Orleans can expect to hand over nearly 41 percent of their income to landlords next year, essentially the same as 2014, according to a report released Tuesday (Dec. 23, 2014) report by real estate data service RealtyTrac. "
For more see my paper NEW ORLEANS POVERTY & THE NEW CULTURAL ECONOMY (2005)
My next blog entry next week will explore the possibilities multi-stakeholder cooperative businesses owned by producers and workers in art, music and culture and tourism and hospitality can turn things around in New Orleans in the run up to New Orleans 2018 Tricentennial.