One-third of Louisiana’s wages come from businesses in flood zones (The Advocate)

One-third of Louisiana’s wages come from businesses in flood zones

More than 42,509 businesses, representing more than half a million workers and $7.2 billion in wages, could be affected by hurricane storm surge in flood zones across Louisiana.

As such, Louisiana is the most at risk for the economy to be disrupted by hurricane damage, according to new research by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics through its Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages data for the third quarter of 2020.

There are roughly 1,900 businesses alongside 22,250 workers whose $290.7 million in wages would be at risk if a Category 1 hurricane made landfall in Louisiana. The bureau said those are conservative estimates, based on storm surge flood zones.

Another 19,019 establishments are in the path of a Category 2 storm, including 217,306 workers with $2.7 billion in wages. A Category 3 storm would put 18,794 establishments at risk, with 244,014 workers earning $3.6 billion in wages. It would take a Category 4 storm to reach the remaining 2,770 establishments farther inland, with 36,152 workers with $527 million in wages.

The remaining 94,975 establishments across the state are projected not to be impacted by such events; they include 1.3 million workers and $16.7 billion in wages. Some parishes have significantly higher risk for hurricane damage and therefore economic destruction.

Lafourche Parish has the largest percentage of total wages which could be impacted by hurricanes, with upwards of 94% in the potential path of a storm: $395 million across 29,882 workers and 1,883 establishments.

In Orleans Parish, 93.5% of total wages are in hurricane flood zones, or $2.2 billion, split among 149,392 workers and 12,720 establishments. The remaining 1,562 establishments, representing 9,397 workers and $156.6 million in total quarterly wages, are not affected, according to the data.

Terrebonne Parish was ranked fourth, with 93.3% of wages being at risk. Jefferson Parish was ranked fifth nationally, with nearly $2.1 billion in wages in hurricanes flood zones, or 92.9%, split among 159,608 workers and 13,344 businesses. St. John the Baptist Parish was sixth nationally and Assumption Parish was seventh.

Ascension Parish had $529.8 million in wages at risk, or 89%, across 36,836 workers and 2,696 establishments. The remaining 517 establishments were not considered to be affected, representing 5,329 workers and $65.3 million in wages.

Overall, six out of the seven top parishes or counties most at risk nationwide were in Louisiana. The outlier was in Currituck County, North Carolina.

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