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Sunday, February 23, 2020

Louisiana struggles to retain college grads despite energy industry's presence

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By Carrie Bradon | Sep 23, 2019

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According to HoumaToday.com, Louisiana’s current strained economy is based largely on three factors: taxes, bureaucracy and an exodus of young adults after earning college degrees.

Gary Wagner, a business economist at University of Louisiana at Lafayette, said the issue is widespread. 

“This is not oil and gas. The struggles that we are seeing are much more systemic and broad than what can just be confined to oil and gas,” Wagner said, referencing what is called “brain drain” - college graduates leaving the state.

Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association President Tyler Gray | Photo courtesy of Louisiana Midcontinent Oil and Gas Association

Form 2000-2017, Louisiana has lost nearly 30,000 college-educated individuals to other states. In fact, according to a study by Congress’ Joint Economic Committee’s Social Capital Project, Louisiana is one of the states struggling the most with this issue. 

The Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association (LMOGA) echoed Wagner’s sentiment about the energy industry.

“It is clear the energy industry is critical to Louisiana, yet we continue to face serious challenges when it comes to conducting business operations in the state,” Tyler Gray, president of LMOGA, told the Louisiana Record. “From the tax, legal and overall business climate to challenges with infrastructure, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for oil and natural gas companies to operate in Louisiana.”

The poor economic performance over the years has led to a 5.6 percent decrease in Louisiana’s GDP, while most other states have enjoyed an increase in GDP.

For those who choose to stay in the state after college, there are ample opportunities within the energy industry. 

“Our industry has employed generations of Louisiana families, and we will continue to fight for a competitive business environment so families can keep calling Louisiana home,” Gray said.

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Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association

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