Monday, January 29, 2007

Keeping Track

The Brookings Institution has been keeping track of the status of the recovery of New Orleans.

This months summary has been released with some somewhat positive stats.

• Housing construction continues to increase, indicated by the fact that new residential housing
permits exceeded pre-Katrina levels in both October and November for the first time since the storm.
• Home demolitions continue to trend upward: 649 additional homes were torn down over the last
month, bringing the total number of demolitions in the metropolitan area to over 4,200 houses.
• The number of residential properties for sale dropped slighted over the holidays, particularly in the
hurricane-affected parishes. This tightening of the market could signal strengthening of real estate prices.


• One more hotel reopened in New Orleans this past month. Now fully 90% of all hotels in the city are
back in business.
• Traffic at the Louis Armstrong International Airport continued to tick upward in October and
November as nearly 300,000 passengers both arrived and departed in each of those two months.
• Louisiana unemployment claims trended slightly upward in the last four weeks of 2006.
• Recently released figures for the first quarter of 2006 substantiate what is well known locally – that
average weekly wages have increased since the storm in many sectors. Average weekly wages have
jumped across almost all sectors including accommodations & food services, construction, educational
services, finance and insurance, utilities, and public administration. But wages have remained stagnant or
fallen in a few categories such as agriculture, and arts & entertainment.
Thats the good news. Now the bad:

• Infrastructure recovery is largely at a standstill with only one new school opened in December, no new
hospitals, no new libraries, and only one new child-care center in New Orleans.
• The level of public transit service has remained unchanged for the last twelve months. Just 49% of all
public transportation routes and 17 percent of buses are in operation.
What can we conclude from this? By the looks of things, the private sector is out pacing the public sector. As for the ramifications, I'll leave that to the reader.

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