To hear more about the vital role of New Orleans’ export industries, check out this…
Allison Plyer and Elaine Ortiz, Greater New Orleans Community Data Center
Released: August 11, 2011
All regional economies generate wealth from the production and sale of goods and services. Industries that sell products to customers outside the region are the chief drivers of regional growth and development. These so–called “export” industries generate revenue from outside the New Orleans region and support additional jobs in supplier industries and industries that serve local consumption needs. In the New Orleans region‚ as in most regional economies‚ each “export” job supports about two additional jobs‚ and in that sense are drivers of the regional economy. Quantifying and tracking “export” jobs over time requires a more sophisticated analysis than is typically available in regional economic studies‚ but doing so allows for a clearer understanding of the strengths and vulnerabilities of the New Orleans area economy.
The New Orleans region is still largely dependent on legacy industries including tourism‚ oil and gas‚ and shipping that have shed tens of thousands of jobs in the New Orleans region since 1980. Knowledge-based “export” industries such as higher education‚ legal services‚ and insurance agencies are beginning to gradually emerge‚ but gains in these industries have not made up for the losses in New Orleans' legacy “export” sectors. Total export jobs have decreased since 1980‚ sparking a decline in local-serving jobs such that the New Orleans region lost 1.1 percent of total jobs over the last three decades while the nation grew jobs 43 percent.
Nonetheless‚ the New Orleans region has formidable assets that can provide the foundation for economic growth. These include not only place-based assets such as its port‚ rail system‚ and oil and gas‚ but also research and development capabilities that will be crucial to the innovation of high value products for the future. To capitalize on emerging opportunities‚ civic and elected leaders must work on a cohesive strategy that seeks to build on the region's competitive strengths‚ create a system for workforce development that builds skills matched to target industries‚ and develop an ecosystem of supports and capital markets that allows entrepreneurs to grow and thrive locally.