Economics Undergrads Publish Second Issue of Regional Economic Analysis of Louisiana (REAL) Report
The Winter 2020 issue of the Regional Economic Analysis of Louisiana (REAL) Report was recently published by undergraduate economics majors in Louisiana Tech University’s College of Business.
A cohesive body of student research examining multiple aspects of Louisiana standards of living, the second issue of this quarterly publication focuses on wage growth at the MSA level, state-level household income and labor market demographics, and the economic impact of the Tech Pointe II expansion on North Louisiana.
Senior economics majors Matthew Flynn, Levi Holder, and Ddon Nguyen were part of the team analyzing the impact of Tech Pointe II on North Louisiana’s economy. “One thing that I found to be quite interesting was Tech’s unique ability to economically affect our region,” said Flynn, whose research focused on the impact the increase of jobs would have on the state. “It is clear that the hands-on experience that many of our students receive at Tech will have long term effects on the number of high-paying computer science jobs in this area (i.e. employers moving here for the talent pipeline).”
Their research found that Tech Pointe II, a new 60,000-square-foot commercial office building housed in Louisiana Tech’s Enterprise Campus, will generate over $72 million in value added and a complete output impact of $144 million. The report indicates the majority of these effects will come from direct employment and construction estimated at $41 million value added and $83 million overall output. Additionally, the largest contributing industry to the direct impact is the custom computer programming services industry, falling in line with trends started by Tech Pointe I.
Flynn, Holder, and Nguyen were students in the inaugural Regional Economic Analysis (ECON 425) course taught by Assistant Professor of Economics Dr. Patrick Scott. These four produced the first REAL Report in the Fall that focused on labor market movements, major state-wide industries, and income and output at the state level.
In addition to the economic impact of the Tech Pointe II, the Winter report explored wage inflation, household income, and unemployment rates by demographics for the state of Louisiana.
Jared Johnson, a senior economics majors, focused his research on the implicit assumption of Louisiana’s Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) Scholarship: is there a significant increase in wages that correlates with the implementation of TOPS?
“My favorite part of the course was learning how to ask and answer my own research questions and get my research published in a university publication. I feel prepared to conduct research in a professional setting, and I gained a deeper knowledge of and appreciation for Louisiana,” said Johnson.
Though Johnson acknowledges the results of his research require some context, he found that overall, students receiving TOPS have 27 percent higher graduation rates and a 2.8-year shorter time to degree completion than non-TOPS Louisiana students.
Junior economics major Marc Enoch Hebane Guehi explored the state’s household income for his section of the REAL Report. “I studied different types of households (non-family households, family households, and married couples) and how their income has changed over the decade. I found that married couple households in Louisiana are the wealthiest and also the household whose high income class is growing. It has most of its population in the middle and high class.”
Guehi appreciated the autonomy to choose his own research for the report. “My favorite part about the course is the freedom that we have to study and research about any topic that we have interest in. I gained the ability to find and manipulate data, and now have good experience in data analysis with R.”
For his contribution to the REAL Report, Quentin Jones, a senior economics major, researched workforce demographics in Louisiana and the neighboring states of Texas, Mississippi, and Arkansas. He explored gender and ethnicity as percentages of the workforce and the unemployment rate of each group.
“This class gave me the ability to utilize the analysis tools we’ve been trained in throughout the economics major to study local and contemporary issues. It gave context to the ‘why’ of everything I have studied up to this point,” said Jones. “Paring the information down so that I could communicate as much of the insights of the data as possible was easily the most challenging part of the project, but seeing the breadth of what the tools in economics are capable of has been invaluable.”
The REAL Report is a quarterly publication designed to provide insight into recent economic developments in Louisiana. It is produced by faculty and students within Louisiana Tech University’s College of Business for the state of Louisiana and our region of the South.
“This report provides community leaders, politicians, and businesses with critical information and analysis-based hypotheticals about the strengths and weaknesses of the local and state economy,” said Dr. Scott, who developed the one credit hour ECON 425 course and works alongside the students to produce each report. “This group of students invested a significant portion of their time and effort to put together an insightful and engaging report for the North Louisiana community.”
To read the Winter 2020 REAL Report or to learn more about the course, click here.