Small Business and Economic Development

Jefferson Parish, LA
United States

Conducted a mixed-methods study to assess impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers and employers in Jefferson Parish Council District 3.

Predominantly Black communities in Jefferson Parish saw some of the highest rates of COVID-19 in Louisiana, in addition to an unemployment rate around 20 percent. Officials in these communities lacked data regarding employment and workforce conditions to guide economic response and recovery. Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI) is a partner and convener working towards improving population-level health outcomes. LPHI conducted a mixed-methods study to assess COVID-related impacts on small businesses and workers in Jefferson Parish Council District 3. 

The project aimed to provide timely data on the issues, concerns, and needs of small businesses and workers. Most employment and workforce data in Jefferson Parish are at the county and regional levels, which masks the unique conditions in Council District 3. To identify information gaps, LPHI scanned relevant secondary data on employment and COVID-19 and used the information to guide ongoing discussions with local partners. The team interviewed local business owners to better understand worksite safety measures and local needs for recovery resources. They found that although business owners were continuously reacting to constant uncertainty by shifting their operations (staffing, hours, and services), many remained resilient.

LPHI also conducted a telephone survey of 400 workers in Jefferson Parish District 3 with assistance from a local polling company. 85 percent of surveyed workers felt they were very or somewhat likely to remain employed through the pandemic but working increased exposure to COVID-19 for 72 percent of respondents. Although 90 percent of respondents said their employers require wearing facemasks within 6 feet of others,  20 percent of Black respondents and 4 percent of White respondents felt their employers do not provide adequate protection. Knowledge of how to access job training services in parish was low, with 66 percent of workers responding their didn’t know where find job training.

The primary beneficiary of the data was the Jefferson Parish Council District 3 office, which serves 75,000 constituents, and can use the data to better understand how to deliver and promote workforce development training opportunities, and to start a broader conversation around public health, equity, and the challenges facing small businesses and workers. Other partners were also able to leverage the findings to obtain additional opportunities, such as JEDCO being awarded an opportunity with the International Economic Development Council to improve economic recovery and resilience in Jefferson Parish.