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LABI: Dour report on business rankings not a surprise

September 17, 2019
Originally posted on The Louisiana Record

A representative with the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry said a recent study showing Louisiana near the bottom of the U.S. in business rankings was not a surprise.

According to TheAdvocate, the Louisiana business environment and overall quality of life currently is nearly at the bottom of a national ranking, where it has been for the last 10 years.

The study was conducted by Legatum and released in July. The study’s findings state that Louisiana’s economic prosperity ranking dropped four places from 46 to 50 this year, a ranking that was determined by factors such as health, social capital and education.

“The underlying factor in almost all of Louisiana’s poor performance in the data sets Legatum chose to measure is the lack of opportunity for employment,” Jim Patterson, LABI vice president of government relations, told the Louisiana Record. “Without a healthy private sector, job opportunities are naturally limited.”

While there may not be enough opportunity in the state, Patterson said, other rankings are more encouraging. 

Patterson quoted a recent report from 24/ that showed Louisiana currently ranks among the top 10 states for unemployment even though it experienced the ninth-lowest 5-year annual employment growth at +0.4 percent.

Patterson said the Legatum report leaves out certain items that are closely connected to the economic system in Louisiana.  

“Despite the tremendous renewed vigor in manufacturing nationally, Louisiana’s is relatively anemic. Factor in items that were not examined in the Legatum report – for example, the greater risk that a Louisiana business will be sued and the high insurance costs that arise from it – and the picture for Louisiana’s future economy becomes even more bleak,” Patterson said. 

Overall, Patterson said, the lack of reform is to blame for many of the state’s woes.

“Louisiana’s lack of political will to address the headwinds retarding growth in our private sector remains the greatest barrier to prosperity for our citizens,” he said. “Indeed, the tax policies adopted in 2015 and during this 4-year term have only added to the burden businesses face in our state. Louisiana had a flourishing manufacturing sector that has been particularly hampered by these tax policies.”