Gulf South states rank at or near the bottom of state rankings in the areas of social justice and equity, a report from the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University New Orleans finds.
Based on a comparison of nine social justice indicators in three categories — poverty, racial disparity, and immigrant exclusion — the JustSouth INDEX 2017 (48 pages, PDF) ranked Louisiana at the bottom of the index and Vermont at the top for the second straight year. This year’s edition also ranked Gulf South states Texas (49th), Alabama (47th), Mississippi (46th), and Florida (35th) near the bottom. According to the report, while the share of Louisiana households with a housing cost burden and of immigrants who had difficulty speaking English fell in 2017, those gains were effectively cancelled out by a drop in income among households in the bottom quartile. The report also notes that Florida’s six-spot jump in the index was due to improvements across all indicators except the white-minority wage gap and the share of immigrants who had difficulty speaking English. And Mississippi’s improvement from fiftieth to forty-sixth was driven by income gains among those in the bottom quartile as well as improvements in the housing cost burden, the white-minority wage gap, and the native-foreign born health insurance coverage gap.
Funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the report also outlines policy and program recommendations focused on driving improvement for each of the indicators.
"While the Gulf South states currently rank low on in the index, it is well within the power and the duty of leaders and citizens in those states to change the current reality," the report concludes. "Improving a state’s ranking on the indicators, dimension indices, and the overall JustSouth Index is incumbent on policy makers, advocates, philanthropists, community leaders, and citizens taking action to work for policy and program changes that will more justly distribute opportunity and resources to all in society."
“JustSouth INDEX 2017.” Jesuit Social Research Institute Report 05/02/2018.