Report shows MSA quality of life among lowest in the South

By Stacey Tinsley, stinsley@bossierpress.com

The Community Foundation released last week its annual report card on Shreveport-Bossier and how that data affects the local business climate.

The event, held Oct. 11, was the 11th edition of the study that details the quality of life — with metrics such as health, education, and poverty — for the Shreveport-Bossier metropolitan statistical area (MSA).

The study compares the local MSA with 10 other similar communities across the South.

“What we hope to do is inform our community about where we’re making progress and how we can address those areas of critical need,” said Kristi Gustavson, executive director of Community Foundation of North Louisiana.

Stats and information gathered in the report was presented by Dr. Dave Norris, chief research and innovation officer at Louisiana Tech University.

“The data collected and presented is a high-level overview of some key insights that come together from pulling data out of the report. It tells a story and is a tool for leaders to use to better  the lives of the people they serve,” said  Dr. Norris.

In economics, the data shows the medium income in Shreveport-Bossier is around $40,000 per year. That placed the local MSA at 10 out of 11 areas examined.

Per capita income wasn’t much better with Shreveport-Bossier averaging $24,455, which placed it third from the bottom.

In 2016, the percent of MSA residents with annual income below $24,999 totaled 33.7 percent and income levels of $25,000 to $74,999 totaled 41 percent.

“Considering these measures alongside other outcomes, such as labor force participation rate and productivity of the workforce, there is evidence of high levels of income inequality in our area,” the report summarized.

Regarding crime and safety, the data shows that 650 out of 100,000 people committed a violent crime offenses in Shreveport-Bossier. That means Shreveport-Bossier ranks No. 8 out of 11.

And, according to the data presented, Shreveport-Bossier has the worst poverty rate.

“We have a much larger rate of children in poverty than throughout the country, which is alarming. This is a deep-seeded and complicated number. But it is one that if you ignore it and don’t come up with some meaningful solutions, some meaningful targeted efforts to change that over time and it’s a long term problem,” said Gustavson. “You have to be able to make those kinds of investments as a community. Because these numbers have to change if you want to achieve what you want to achieve.”
Other data revealed:

  • 8.3 percent of 16- to 19-year-olds are not enrolled in school, not in the labor force, and unemployed.
  • Shreveport-Bossier has the third highest percentage of the population with less than a post-secondary degree.
  • 2016 MSA education levels had the local area with only 29.3 percent of the population with an associate’s degree or higher. This was the second lowest rate out of the 11 MSAs measured.
  • The local MSA ranked third for percent of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in school in 2016 with 49.7 percent. This increased from 39.8 percent in 2015.
  • More than one out of every three families with children under age five in Shreveport-Bossier are living in poverty (35.7 percent), the highest rate of all comparative communities.
  • Currently, only 36.7 percent of children arrive kindergarten ready in the Shreveport-Bossier MSA. Students who participate in preschool programs are more likely to be kindergarten ready, and statistically more likely to be reading on grade level and graduate high school.
  • Nearly 12 percent of employed adults have no health insurance in Shreveport-Bossier City. The Shreveport-Bossier MSA saw a large jump from ninth to fourth place among its peers in the percent of people uninsured.
  • Due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the share of uninsured persons in every MSA showed a substantial reduction during this time period.

“If you want to affect change in the future, you have to start now and be patient. There’s nothing that’s gonna fix it right away but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dedicate time, energy and money to it now,” Gustavson said.

The Community Foundation manages and provides a variety of charitable funds and gift options to aid the mission of local nonprofits. It has tracked trends throughout the community and published data comparing the Shreveport-Bossier MSA to other cities similar in size since 2008.