Tuesday, October 25, 2005

New Orleans wasn't as poor as advertised. Using New York City as a baseline, the latest City Journal has the stats:
Yes, New Orleans has a 28 percent poverty rate, and yes, New Orleans is 67 percent black. But nearly two-thirds of New Orleans’s blacks aren’t poor.

Yes, it’s true that nearly 25 percent of New Orleans’s families live on less than $15,000 a year, according to the 2000 Census. But 19 percent of New York’s families live on less than $15,000—and it’s much more expensive for poor people to live in New York, making them poorer. The median monthly New York rent is $705, and the median monthly mortgage is $1,535—compared with monthly costs of $488 and $910 respectively in New Orleans.

Despite the images of collective helplessness broadcast after Katrina, New Orleans does not have a stratospherically high government-dependency rate. In 2002, it had 6,696 families on cash welfare, or 3.6 percent, compared with New York City’s 98,000 families, or 3.2 percent. In 2000, 7.8 percent of New Orleans households received Supplemental Security Income, compared with 7.5 percent in New York.

Anyone familiar with New Orleans knows that the city is filled with hard-working people—most of them black. Welfare reform, in New Orleans as in the rest of the country, worked; between 1996 and 2002, Louisiana cut its welfare rolls by 66 percent. The only virtue of New Orleans’s tourism-dependent economy is that those with few skills who want to work can work; the city’s unemployment rate was 5.2 percent during 2004, lower than New York’s 7.1 percent.
On the other hand,
In 2003, New Orleans’s murder rate was nearly eight times the national average—and since then, murder has increased. In 2002 and 2003, New Orleans had the highest per capita city homicide rate in the United States, with 59 people killed per year per 100,000 citizens—compared to New York City’s seven.

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