LA Workforce Commissions says New Orleans area thrives in hospitality

March 23 2011 | Latest News
LA Workforce disagrees the Forbes Magazine article...

Don Ames Reporting

WWL Radio

A recent article in Forbes Magazine said New Orleans would be the toughest city in which to find a job in 2011.

But, the State Labor Department strongly disagrees.

Labor officials say the New Orleans job market is healthy and growing. said, in the fourth quarter of 2010, it found only 10 job postings with salaries of $50,000 or more per thousand population in the metro area.

Jay Augustine, Deputy Executive Director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission, says the criteria may have hurt.

"Many of the jobs that were available in the metropolitan area all paid just south of that $50,000 median income area," says Augustine.

And he says the market is still strong in that salary bracket.

"There are a great deal of jobs in the metropolitan area slightly below the $50,000 range."

"In sum total, I would say the article you make reference to is absolutely misleading," Augustine says.

"Not only are there a great deal of jobs available, but there's certainly room for optimism in terms of the future and in terms of people locating to the city."

Augustine acknowledges that the city has specialized needs.

"New Orleans and the metropolitan area is an infrastructure that thrives on retail trade and in hospitality. And, in those two sectors, there are a great deal of jobs available, as long as individuals are qualified to fill them."

He also says earnings are on the rise in the area.

"The median income, pre-Katrina and post-Katrina, is a difference on the plus side. We are actually seeing, on average, an increase in earnings in the metropolitan area, post-Katrina, than we were pre-Katrina."

The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau points out that, ironically, Forbes has also named New Orleans the #1 brain magnet in the U.S., though it also downplayed the city's success, post-Katrina.

That report took the 50 largest metropolitan areas and ranked them by gains in people with college educations compared to the population over 25 years of age.

And, it showed that college graduates with bachelor's degrees or higher, a group aggressively pursued by city planners across the country, are flocking to New Orleans.

The CVB also took issue with the report that states 'New Orleans never fully recovered from the Katrina disaster, and tourism hasn't bounced back.'

"It's clear that they do not have the most up-to-date information regarding tourism trends, especially 2010 data as we lead the country in hotel performance growth, had numerous meetings with record-breaking attendance and the same goes for festivals," says spokeswoman Jennifer Day.

"Solely basing conclusions on a very specific piece of quantitative data is, unfortunately, not the best way to craft a story," she says.

Augustine says the Louisiana Workforce Commission web site offers a gauge of the market, available jobs and what will be available in the future, in terms of occupational forecasting.