Thursday, May 10, 2007

Post-Katrina Economic Adjustments

As you drive around New Orleans these days, those little cardboard signs on the side of the road don't say the same things they do in other cities. You aren't offered "$$$$ to work from home" or a tip on a "going out of business sale" with addresses or phone numbers printed on them. Instead, you might see signs for:

-Gutters: call 504-xxx-xxxx
-Drywall, $20/sheet: call 504-xxx-xxxx
-We Do Demolition! Call 504-xxx-xxxx

You can also catch billboards for insurance claim lawyers, "Come Home" loans, and construction companies. The New Orleans economy has made an adjustment to fit the needs of the post-Katrina market as well as possible. The Times-Picayune (which has been incredible on investigative reporting since Katrina) reports that the amount of construction dollars spent in New Orleans was 3,000% higher in 2006 than in the most recent pre-Katrina years.

At the same time, restaurant business and hotel rates, by June 2006, had not yet matched their pre-Katrina levels. While the article is a year old, it puts numbers on something that is evident from the ground in New Orleans: economic activty after Katrina is much more about the bare essentials in life. Improved shelter or any shelter at all take precedent in people's economic decisions, and thus advertising around the city reflects the skyrocketing demand for construction, legal assistance, and financial assistance, rather than selling consumer good, entertainment, or other items less essential to day-to-day life.

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