New Orleans and Mississippi could realize significant economic growth if they take steps to develop the skills and talents of their workers as part of a broader effort to eliminate racial disparities in employment, health, education, and incarceration, new reports from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Altarum, a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming health and health care, find.
According to the two studies included in The Business Case for Racial Equity: A Strategy for Growth, Mississippi could realize a $54 billion increase in economic output by 2050 if it closed its racial equity gap, while metro New Orleans could realize a $43 billion gain over the same period. In Mississippi, closing the earnings gap would create $8 billion in new purchasing power annually, including $2.7 billion spent on housing, $1.4 billion on automobiles and transportation, $1 billion on food, $410 million on entertainment, and $280 million on apparel and services. In addition, $880 million would be generated in state and local tax revenues annually, while tax revenues would increase by $1.2 billion. In New Orleans, assuming current spending patterns, consumer spending would increase by more than $5.5 billion, including an additional $1 billion spent on automobiles and transportation, $1.9 billion on housing, $700 million on food purchases, $300 million on entertainment, and $200 million on apparel and services.
The studies also found that as New Orleans and Mississippi work to eliminate discriminatory practices, they must develop the skills and talents of their workers. According to the Mississippi report, 63 percent of the jobs in the state will require education beyond high school by 2050, but only 48 percent of African Americans, 49 percent of Hispanics/Latinos, and 45 percent of Native Americans have attained some postsecondary education, compared to 60 percent of whites. There’s also a significant disparity in wages, with the average black worker in Mississippi earning 57 percent of his white counterpart and the average Latino earning about 60 percent.
"The studies demonstrate what advancing racial equity can mean in economic terms," said WKKF president and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron. "The data presented should inspire all leaders, sectors, and communities to spearhead transformational efforts for the people of New Orleans and Mississippi. Advancing racial equity can boost economic growth in a way that helps all people succeed."