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New report shows large number of families struggling to make ends meet in Louisiana

Loyola press release - January 13, 2015

A new report from Loyola University New Orleans’ Jesuit Social Research Institute reveals that more than 250,000 families with children in Louisiana lack economic security to meet essential needs such as housing, food, child care, transportation and health care. The Jesuit Social Research Institute officially released the report, “Too Much for Too Many,” during a press conference today.

“Too Much for Too Many” was made possible by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and sets out to establish a measure of family economic security to provide families, employers and policymakers with a better understanding of Louisiana’s cost of living.

“We are not talking about families living in luxury or even very comfortable lives. Rather, family economic security is shorthand for the concept that there is a measurable standard of living that ensures that families can meet essential basic needs and live a modest but dignified life,” said The Rev. Fred Kammer, S.J., J.D., director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute.

Some important findings of the report include:

  • 86,232 married-couple families, 138,039 single-mother families, and 26,539 single-father families with one to three children lack incomes that meet the family economic security estimate for Louisiana.
  • New Orleans has the highest family economic security annual estimate in Louisiana: $51,264 for a single-mother family with one child and $62,040 for a married-couple family with one child.
  • 53.3 percent of workers are employed in occupational groups with median salaries below $30,000.

Additionally, the report indicates that one in three married-couple families and four in five single-mother families are not far from serious economic deprivation.

Research on the report was led by Alí R. Bustamante, economic policy specialist in the Jesuit Social Research Institute, and assisted by research fellows and student researchers. Bustamante indicates in the report that businesses in Louisiana, as well as the state government, have the ability to alleviate the economic situations for many families. Recommendations include increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, as well as Medicaid, which would bring health care to 330,000 of 633,000 uninsured residents under 65 while growing Louisiana’s economy by $1.8 billion and creating 15,600 jobs.

“The estimates in our report provide a dollar amount to the economic standard that puts families more than a step away from serious economic deprivation that we know as poverty, homelessness, hunger, and untreated physical and mental illness. The estimates are intended to provide families with modest but dignified lives that allow them to participate fully in our communities,” Bustamante said.

To schedule an interview or to request a copy of the report, contact James Shields in the Office of Public Affairs at 504-861-5888.