Louisiana’s young people are asking, ‘Should I stay or should I go?’

By Robert Mann

In a country with greater labor mobility than any other place in the world, why would any ambitious young person want to remain in Louisiana? Almost every other state promises more opportunity and a better quality of life.

We’re near the bottom in economic opportunity. We’re worst, or among the worst, in almost every category of child well-being. If it were simply a matter of economics, the right decision for most of our young people would be to hit the road.

Almost 30 years ago, in January 1985, I left Shreveport for Washington, D.C., to work on Capitol Hill. I was sure I’d never return. I was off to seek fortune and fame, doubting that such a backward place as Louisiana could offer me that. The state seemed devoid of opportunity, vision and tolerance.

After a few years of living among the well-educated, well-traveled, well-heeled Washington crowd, I grew homesick. I realized I was a stranger in a foreign land. I missed Louisiana’s food, its music, its lakes and streams and its unique and beguiling culture.

More than anything, I missed its people and their sincere hospitality. It took leaving to teach me that Louisiana was as genuine as Washington was superficial. I wanted to be among people who were just as dedicated to building community as their careers. My homesickness and love for a Louisiana girl brought me home.

Yet, in the 21 years since I returned, one could argue that our problems have multiplied. For example, we’re last among states with jobs requiring a college degree. Many educated young people who want to stay here – and most do – realize they simply cannot.

Perhaps, like me, you have teenagers. If so, I suspect you fear that it won’t be long before yours are seeking jobs in places like Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles or New York. Truth is, shouldn’t they? Wouldn’t they be better off?

Continue reading at NOLA.com

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3 Responses to Louisiana’s young people are asking, ‘Should I stay or should I go?’

  1. Jg Benn says:

    how could young Louisianans possibly embrace staying in this cesspool of hard rightwinged fundamentalism and such politicians as Bobby Jindal???

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  2. Auntie Ann says:

    Very interesting post. Thank you for considering and writing something that might be a point of optimism for many. I was concerned, though, that someone of your stature would, essentially, blog about a serious problem. I agree that things can’t ever get better if the best and brightest continue to leave, but you did not offer any real solutions. No change can come without a well thought out plan. Have you any suggestions for those of us who are packing our bags and are ready to leave?
    There has to first be a place for the business-savvy, creative, hard-working and college educated people to go. There are not enough professional jobs to sustain us, and those that are do not pay a competitive wage or, if it does, those wages are being sucked out of us by an inflated cost of living (here in New Orleans, at least). Until there are jobs, and value in the money to be made, we can not stay, and do not feel comfortable in telling the next generation that they should, either.

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  3. Paige Weber says:

    Reblogged this on .

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