$15/hr does not match cost of living in New Orleans, data expert says

Residents express frustrations over inflation and the cost of food, gas, housing, and insurance
Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 9:48 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - With almost everything costing more these days, some people say their budgets can’t take much more. A data expert says not even a salary of $15 an hour is a match for the cost of living in New Orleans.

“It costs a lot for me to just put gas in my truck and going to the store to buy food that’s literally a lot of money,” said Tyra Davis.

She is not alone in complaining about the cost of living.

Kim Singleton agrees it takes more money to buy necessities.

“By me being a self-employed plumber, it done brought my wages done drastically, but my taxes are still high. Something needs to be done,” he said.

“Certainly, it does cost a lot more to live in New Orleans than it used to,” said Lamar Gardere, executive director for the data center in New Orleans.

“For one adult and one child, according to recent data it’s about $34 an hour just to support yourself, now that’s up about $2 an hour from last year and it’s up about 49% or about $11 an hour over the last five years,” he said.

Data on food prices confirms many people are paying more.

“We know inflation is now about 9.1%, higher than last year which means that you’re probably paying about 10% more for groceries and about 35% more for energy these days,” said Gardere.

Many say they are paying too much for utilities, and housing costs are also up in New Orleans.

“If I have a $100 utility bill as far as Entergy, that’s a problem for me because I’m a single parent. I’m taking care of my grandkids,” said Davis.

In the New Orleans metro area, rent is up about 17%, Gardere says. Average rent is now about $1,500, up about 28% from five years ago, he said.

“About 29% of renters in our area now are cost-burdened, meaning that they spend more than 50% of their income on rent,” said Gardere.

For people who own their homes, they are also dealing with higher insurance costs.

“Thank God, I’m not in a flood area and I don’t have to pay flood insurance. It’s getting ridiculous,” said Singleton.

The local real estate market is feeling the impact of increasing insurance costs.

“Really it’s a double-whammy between interest rates bumping up a little bit and insurance, so insurance costs have risen significantly in the past year, primarily from homeowners’ insurance,” said Realtor John Sibley, owner of the Sibley Group.

After Hurricane Ida, premiums are increasing and that can affect monthly mortgage amounts.

“We have seen people that are just having a little more of a challenge buying the house that they would have been able to buy more easily a year or two years ago,” Sibley said. “So I think over time, that will start to put some pressure on the market.”

Interest rates have also ticked up as the Federal Reserve tries to tame inflation. Demand for products is outpacing supply. Some potential homebuyers are opting out for now.

“We have had some clients and people that have reconsidered. They’ve gotten down to the point of what their costs will be and they’ve said they need to reevaluate our budget,” said Sibley.

Still, he urges people who want to buy residential property not to give up.

“The thing about interest rates is though that you buy a house at the current rate, rates are going to go up or down. If they go down, you can always refinance,” said Sibley.

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