Riegel: The difficult realities of living in south Louisiana  

    A few days before Hurricane Ida laid waste to coastal south Louisiana, leaving Baton Rouge without electricity for days and much of New Orleans in the dark for weeks, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation released its 2021 CityStats report, which contained one particularly sobering statistic: 60% of parents want their children to leave the parish and live elsewhere when they’re adults, up from 45% in 2019.

    This is no small thing in a state where 78% of the residents are native born, writes Business Report editor Stephanie Riegel in her new opinion piece. 

    People don’t leave Louisiana and they really don’t like their children to leave. So you know things are bad, when a sizable majority of poll respondents want their progeny to seek a better life somewhere else.

    It was easy to miss this news, as everyone carefully watched where Ida was headed. Unless you had been willing and able to travel far from the state many days before the storm appeared to be an imminent threat for almost all of Louisiana you were stuck, Riegel writes. 

    What are 4.2 million people supposed to do, especially when 20% of those people live below the federal poverty level and roughly half fall into the “working poor” demographic? 

    Which brings me back to CityStats, Riegel writes, because while I realize the survey is about East Baton Rouge Parish, I suspect the responses would be similar if you asked people in New Orleans or the Northshore or anywhere in south Louisiana about whether they want their kids to leave.

    If you really want what’s best for them, how can you not? With each disaster, disruption and downturn, we are reminded that south Louisiana is an increasingly difficult place to live. In the era of climate change it will only get worse, as Ida has painfully illustrated.

    Read Riegel’s full column from the latest edition of Business Report.