Census shows focus needs to be education

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 8, 2001

Census data shows the state of Louisiana earned a notorious distinction recently. The state has the highest percentage of people living below the poverty level – nearly one in five residents fall below the poverty mark.

Mississippi ranked third worst with 18 percent of its residents living in poverty.

The U.S. Census Bureau survey defined the poverty line as having an annual income of $17,135 for a family of four.

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The news wasn’t shocking, but it was disappointing.

And as often happens after such revelations, people are left asking &uot;why?&uot;

Part of the problem for both states, it seems, is that while the economy of the U.S. boomed during the 1990s, the economy in Louisiana and Mississippi remained flat.

Overall, it’s simply a matter of numbers. Fewer jobs were created on average when compared to the United States average. And those that were created weren’t typically high-paying jobs.

Although the report overall is bad news, Louisiana did improve. Ten years ago, the same report showed one in four Louisiana residents were impoverished.

While the improvement is positive, Louisiana and Mississippi needs to move ahead and pull itself up from the bottom of the pile. The best way of achieving that goal is through education. One reason the state hasn’t received many high-paying jobs is that our workforce simply isn’t skilled enough.

While it’s difficult to accept, it’s a fact and one that only we can change.

Education must become our focus. Our future depends on it.