Metrovision report shows rosy future for River ParishesLEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / July 21, 1999NEW ORLEANS – MetroVision’s Perspectives 2000 report, just issued for is nine member parishes, reveals economic indicators which promise a rosy future for the nine-parish region.

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 21, 1999

Population is on the rise, and St. James Parish headed off a populationexodus with gains in the past eight years. St. James Parish in 1980 had apopulation of 21,495, which had dropped by 1990 to 20,879. However, by1998 the population was coming back, and a total of 21,289 people was reported.

In St. Charles Parish, the 1980 population was 37,259; up by 1990 to42,437. It attained 48,015 by last year. In St. John the Baptist Parish, the1980 population was 31,924; up in 1990 to 39,996. Last year there were42,242 residents.

This means St. Charles Parish, with an annual percentage of 1.64, isgrowing more than twice as fast as St. John Parish, at 0.7 percent.St. Charles is, among the nine-parish region, the second-fastest-growingparish in that region, edging Tangipahoa with its 1.43 percentage. Far and away, though, St. Tammany Parish is leading in rapid populationgrowth, with 3.39 percent per year. In 1980 the population there was110,869, jumping in 1990 to 144,500 and in 1998 to 183,727 persons.

Diversification efforts in the southeast Louisiana economy have taken hold, with 26 percent of all regional jobs tourism related. Oil and gas jobsfollow closely with 25 percent, followed by maritime-port employment with 18 percent and shipbuilding and aerospace with just under 11 percent.

The report continued: “The unprecedented capital investment of recent years in basic industrial sectors and infrastructure as well as the continuing diversification of the economy resulting from a targeted economic development strategy are expected to be the principal reasons for a sustainable increase in the region’s growth rate through 2003.”Educational achievement in the MetroVision area, including the River Parishes, show the area taking a lead from the national averages. In thisregion, 1990 adults completing high school or more were 72.3 percent inthis area, compared to 75.2 percent nationally. By 1995, the region had84.3 percent completing high school, while the national average was 81.7percent.

The percentage of 1990 adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher was 19.7percent in the New Orleans region, compared to 20.3 percent nationally. By1995 those numbers improved to 24.3 percent regionally and only 23percent nationally. All this demonstrated a more rapid pace of upgradingeducational achievement here, versus the national trends.

This is also reflected in the unemployment trends, according to the MetroVision report. In 1990 unemployment for the region was 6.0 percent,with the U.S. average at 5.6 percent. Regionally, joblessness reached ahigh of 7.7 percent in 1994 but plunged to 5.1 percent by 1998. Nationally,the peak was reached in 1992 with 7.5 percent and plunged to 4.5 percentduring 1998.

It was also noted that this occurred at a time when the labor force growth increased at a rate higher than the population growth rate, the report stated.

Ethnically, St. Charles Parish in 1997 was 72.7 percent white, 26.4percent black, 3.1 percent Hispanic and 0.9 percent other. St. John Parishin 1997 was 60.3 percent white, 38.9 percent black, 2.9 percent Hispanicand 0.8 percent other. St. James Parish was 47.2 percent white, 52.6percent black, 0.6 percent Hispanic and 0.2 percent other.Effective buying power per household continued to improve. According to1997 figures in the MetroVision report, St. Charles Parish’s 16,500households had an average effective buying power of $42,662. St. JohnParish’s 13,800 households had an average effective buying power of $39,783. St. James Parish’s 6,900 households had an average effectivebuying power of $36,069.

The highest average effective buying power was highest of the region at $45,070 in St. Tammany Parish.MetroVision also issued a School-to-Career program report for 1998, in which 300 active partners hosted 87 student interns from 32 participating high schools.

The River Parishes region included participating from Destrehan, Hahnville, Lutcher, St. James, West St. John and East St. John high schools.Coordinating those efforts during 1998 were Alice Cryer-Sumler in St.

Charles, Evela Bourgeois in St. James and Beverly Harris in St. John Parish.The program’s governance board during 1998 included Cleveland Farlough of St. John Parish, Lily Galland of Shell Oil/Norco, Rodney Lafon of St.Charles Parish, Walter Landry of St. James Parish, Dennis Murphy of theRiver Parishes Technical Institute and St. Charles Councilman RonPhillips.

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