Louisiana has ranked at the bottom of yet another list – the “Best States” ranking released by US News & World Report earlier this month. This marks the fifth consecutive year Louisiana has received this ranking, with the state outperforming all 49 other states in every category, but crime and corrections and economy. However, US News & World Report advises against historical comparisons because the methodology changes frequently. Louisiana’s education score has risen by five places, which State Superintendent Dr. Shannon Lafargue views as great news for the state despite the impact of COVID-19 and storms.
When looking at Louisiana’s crime statistics, the state has 639 crimes per 100,000 population, much higher than the national average of 399 violent crimes. The economy ranking depended on various factors such as venture capital per GDP, employment growth, and business climate. Louisiana’s cost of living index is 8.3 points lower than the national average, but its median household income is only $52,087, lower than the national median of $69,717. Furthermore, 19.6% of Louisiana households live in poverty, compared to the national poverty rate of 12.8%. These factors create an unfavorable environment for business growth and innovation, but diversifying and exploring ways to improve quality of life are critical steps towards change.
Despite Louisiana’s challenges, there are opportunities to improve. The state offers more opportunities than states like New York and California, but at a lower cost of living. Dan Groft, Director of HC Drew Center for Business Economic Analysis, believes that ranking highly in one category is difficult if other factors such as crime, education, and infrastructure are poor. Instead, it is crucial to focus on attracting new businesses and improving quality of life to foster change.
The Calcasieu long-term recovery plan and the JustImagineSWLA long-term plan are examples of initiatives to improve housing and quality of life. The Alliance also works hard to attract new businesses to the state. While Louisiana still has a long way to go, it has outperformed other states in financial stability, according to US News & World Report. Ultimately, it is important not to take rankings too seriously and instead focus on ways to improve and make positive changes.