Key Facts to Know About Communities of Color in Louisiana Before the 2014 Midterm Elections
Part of a Series
Driven by the state’s African American population, communities of color are a growing and increasingly important segment of the Louisiana electorate. The impact of these communities is felt not only through their population growth but also through their economic contributions and electoral clout. As the 2014 midterm election approaches, there are several key facts to keep in mind regarding these growing and dynamic communities in Louisiana:
- Louisiana’s people of color represent a large segment of the state population. As of 2013, people of color made up nearly 40 percent of the Louisiana’s population. While non-Hispanic whites comprised 59.6 percent of the state’s population, blacks, Asians, and Latinos constituted 32.4 percent, 1.7 percent, and 4.7 percent of Louisiana’s population, respectively. Immigrants made up 3.8 percent of the population of Louisiana. According to the Immigration Policy Center, approximately 40 percent of the immigrant population is eligible to vote.
- People of color represent a large portion of the Louisiana electorate. While the non-Hispanic white population constitutes the majority of Louisiana’s eligible voters at approximately 65.6 percent, the state’s communities of color are significant enough that their votes have the potential to swing the outcome of the election. Black voters, in particular, have real political clout, making up 30.7 percent of the state’s eligible voters. While Latinos and Asian Americans—at 2.1 percent and 7 percent, respectively—are much smaller shares of eligible voters, those voters are bound to see their shares of the electorate increase as demographics continue to shift.
- A significant share of people of color in Louisiana is below the age of 18. According to the Census Bureau, 28.1 percent of Louisiana’s African American population is under the age of 18, while the same group only makes up 21 percent of the state’s non-Hispanic white population. Among Louisiana’s Latinos and Asian Americans, 28.5 percent and 21 percent of their respective populations are under the age of 18. This leaves room for the segment of people of color in the Louisiana electorate to grow in the coming years as those below the age of 18 begin to reach voting age.
- In Louisiana, communities of color are integral to the state’s economy. While the immigrant population of Louisiana is relatively small, it has a considerable impact on the state’s economy. In 2011, immigrants made up around 5 percent of the labor force in Louisiana. Without the contributions of undocumented immigrants in particular, Louisiana would lose around $947 million in economic activity. The buying power of Louisiana’s black population is upwards of $34 billion, while the total buying power of the state’s Latino and Asian communities is $9.2 billion dollars. Additionally, according to the Census Bureau, 15.9 percent of businesses in Louisiana are black-owned, 2.8 percent are Asian-owned, and 2.9 percent are Latino-owned.
- Louisiana’s voters support an increase of the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Currently, Louisiana has no minimum-wage legislation, but a recent poll shows that potential voters support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, with 55 percent in favor of such a measure and 38 percent opposed. This issue is important to communities of color, particularly Louisiana’s black voters, who could decide the outcome of this year’s election. Black voters make up only 11 percent of the Louisiana labor force, yet they constitute 14 percent of the state’s low-wage workers.
Jamal Hagler is the Special Assistant for Progress 2050.
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