The Big Busy

Volume 15, Number 3
Third Quarter 2013

Photo of New Orleans streetNew Orleans has changed since Hurricane Katrina left much of the city underwater in 2005. In a city known for its indifference to outside trends and pressures, those changes are no small feat.

"Traditionally, New Orleans' great charm—and challenge—was that nothing ever seemed to change," noted staff writer Charles Davidson in "The Big Busy." The article, featured in the third-quarter EconSouth, describes the city's economic resurgence.

A lot of the changes were necessary. Even before Katrina, the New Orleans economy was on a downward path. But in recent years, the city has reversed much of the decline and even outperformed the nation on several metrics, such as gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

The factors driving New Orleans' upbeat economic performance vary. They include more than $100 billion in federal aid received post-Katrina, record tourism activity, growth in knowledge-based industries, and a new entrepreneurial climate. There have been demographic changes, too. More young professionals are pouring into New Orleans, helping to plug its notorious "brain drain." Importantly, people's perceptions about the city have changed—which has prompted new investments.

Despite these advances, questions remain about whether New Orleans' economic revitalization is sustainable, Davidson wrote. In addition, the city continues to battle entrenched problems such as crime and poverty. "The larger point, however, is that New Orleans has made substantial progress," he concluded.

To learn more about the city's economic renaissance, read the full article in the third-quarter edition of EconSouth, available in print and online.