Coastal Restoration as Keynesian Spending – Building Jobs in Louisiana with Other People’s Money

The key to understanding Louisiana Coastal Restoration is to forget wetlands and floods and look at the money. Pretty much all of the money for coastal restoration and related “resiliency” projects is intended to come from other people, primarily the federal government, and secondarily the oil and gas industry. This report, THE COASTAL INDEX: The Problem and Possibility of Our Coast, explicitly discusses how important this is to the LA economy. It calls the overall bundle of projected water management services:

Defining and Situating the Water Management Sector (p10)

In this report, water management refers to all of the water-related work happening off the coasts, such as creating barrier islands and marshes; all the work on the coastlines, mainly levee and breakwater construction; and the work happening inland managing subsidence and storm water deluges, such as building green infrastructure that better stores water.

Starting on p24, the report discusses how important this sector is to the economy and why it has to grow.

The water management economy in Southeast Louisiana grew by 7,526 jobs from 2011 to 2013…

One of the most important aspects of coastal restoration is that it does not require education:

With 75 percent of jobs in occupations offering hourly wages of $15 or higher, the water management sector outperforms the total economy of Southeast Louisiana, where only 53 percent of jobs are in occupations that offer the same hourly pay. In the water management sector, jobs in occupations offering wages in the $15 to $30 an hour range can be acquired with as little as a high school diploma supplemented by various levels of on-the-job training. Those that acquire a bachelor’s degree and supplement it with experience earn over $30 an hour on average. Overall, the opportunities afforded by this sector and its ease of accessibility shows that water management holds promise for boosting quality of life for a wide spectrum of workers.(p27)

So we see that coastal restoration is highly paid work that does not require education, and it is a major source of new jobs in LA. Ironically, this does not depend on whether any of the projects work. It maybe that building projects that do not work really increases the flow of federal money, at least until the taxpayers of other states get tired of supporting a state whose own parishes vote down taxes that would support even a small part of this work: St. Bernard voters reject levee tax again


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