Are There Enough Jobs?
An Assessment of the Employment Opportunities for
the Public Assistance Recipient in
New Orleans, LA
Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the
University of New Orleans
in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of
Urban and Regional Planning
B.S., The University of California at Davis, 1994
Many thanks to all who have encouraged me along this journey. I will always be thankful for the opportunities that I have had along the way to work and to have fun. I would especially like to thank Laura Leete at Case Western Reserve University for her generous time, and morning chat about Mt. Tamalpais. Many thanks also to Bob Whelan at The University of New Orleans for his mentoring, appreciation for the Hudson Valley, and a good homebrew. Thank you also to Dr. Alma Young and Jim Brandt for their guidance, and departures from their schedules. Thanks to Stacy Vogan who was with me everyday. Thanks to my parents. And finally, thanks to Barbara Johnson at MetroVision for introducing me to economic development. Others who helped me include Derris C. Newman, Mary Dovie, Jeff Jarosinski, Erin Sanner, Daniel Rosenberg, Pat Conner, the UNO librarians, Walter Gallas and Beryl Ochoa, JLB, Patty Lopez, Ivory Williams, Wendel Dufour, Neusi, and Coral.
The social welfare function of society mandates two goals for social planning: (1) insuring health and economic security for individuals, and (2) guaranteeing social equity and social opportunity through social restructuring and redistribution. Such a mandate requires that social planners mediate between individuals and their environments in order to mitigate and compensate for the abnormalizing effects of disability, dependency, or deprivation. Therefore, the two aforementioned goals are carried out by improving individuals’ capabilities to provide for themselves and by modifying environmental conditions so as to bridge gaps between personal resources and the normal fulfillment of needs” (Washington, 1995; p. 51).
Recent works by Leete and Bania (1995a; 1995b) found evidence of the “skills” and “spatial” mismatches that exist between public assistance recipients living in two different public housing neighborhoods and occupations in the Cleveland-Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). This study modifies and extends the work of Leete and Bania to a new metropolitan area in an effort to work through the inconclusive research on the “skills and spatial mismatch hypothesis.” Furthermore, this study provides support for the methodology developed by Leete and Bania, and tries to validate the seemingly outdated data used.
Occupations in the local labor market were categorized based on the levels of education and job skills content they require. For this study, levels of education and job skills content were taken from U.S. Department of Labor and Bureau of the Census data. Specific occupational job opening data for the New Orleans metropolitan area were obtained from the Louisiana Department of Labor. Evidence of a skills mismatch was found for the New Orleans MSA.
Methodology and data from this study can be used for: (1) studies focusing on labor supply which emphasize education and training programs or studies focusing on labor demand which seek to increase jobs; (2) determining the programmatic needs, with respect to both the occupation and the worker, of programs designed to provide public assistance recipients with appropriate education and skills training, and job search assistance programs; and (3) providing baseline quantified input for public and private sector economic development programs in terms of human capital and physical infrastructure development (Leete and Bania, 1995b).