Priority Area: Workforce and Education

Success Measure:
Increase average per-capita income by
per year by 2030
GOAL: Reduce income inequality and economic hardship and improve high school graduation rates by advancing careers and career pathways into high wage, high demand jobs.

REASON: Those with lower incomes and less educational attainment have poorer health outcomes than those with higher educational attainment and higher incomes.

Across several health ranking measures, people with lower incomes and less educational attainment have poorer outcomes than those with higher educational attainment and higher incomes.

Recognizing the impact of these factors on health, America’s Health Rankings included several measures: income and income inequality, high school graduation, unemployment, poverty, dependency, and crowded housing. 

The connection between education and health is well-documented. Higher educational attainment is associated with better jobs, higher earnings, increased health literacy, better self-reported health, and fewer chronic conditions. Individuals with lower educational attainment are at a greater risk of adverse health outcomes such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, lung disease, mental health problems and premature death. Additionally, students who drop out of high school are more likely to experience incarceration. 

Working to improve education statewide will lead to a healthier population long-term while building a pipeline of talented people who will train and stay in Louisiana. (AHR)

Education Rate

LA Rate
US Rate
The percentage of adults aged 25+ without a high school diploma (AHR).

Unemployment Rate

LA Rate
US Rate
The percentage of 16- to 64-year-olds who are jobless, looking for a job and available for work (AHR).
Healthier states have...
higher incomes
People who live in healthier states earn up to $27,000 higher incomes, and experience 4% lower unemployment.
fewer poverty
Healthier states have 11% fewer people in poverty compared to less healthy states.
Source: (AHR)

Success Measures

Ratio of median household income

2020 Baseline
2021 Actual
2022 Actual
2030 Target

What we should know and do to drive change:

Issue specific to High School Graduation
Louisiana ranks 50th in high school graduation rates (WiseVoter)
LA Rate
US Rate
Percentage of high school students graduating with a regular high school diploma within four years of starting ninth grade. (2018-2019 school year) (AHR)
Who is affected most?
High school graduation rates in my community
As of 2022, only 80% of Louisiana high school students are graduating with a regular high school diploma within four years of starting ninth grade (AHR)
  • Developing interventions that target social, economic, and health-related barriers to graduation will increase high school graduation rates
  • Keeping children and adolescents in school through high school graduation and beyond is key to increasing equitable health outcomes (AHR)
  • Increase work-based learning programs including pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships
  • Identify strategies to keep students stay in school longer by adjusting policies and graduation requirements
  • Idea exchange on best practices and policies
Current state of the policy
Programs aimed at increasing high school graduation rates include:
  • Vocational training and alternative schooling
  • Social-emotional skills training
  • College-oriented programming, mentoring, and counseling
  • Attendance monitoring and case management
  • Community service opportunities
Other gulf states, specifically Mississippi,Alabama, and Florida have higher high school graduation rates than Louisiana. State Rankings: Educational Attainment by State
LA (50th)
MS (49th)
AL (46th)
FL (27th)
GA (36th)
Percentage of people over 25 years who do not have a high school diploma
What other states are doing:
Alabama, Alabama, Mississippi
Issue specific to Labor Underutilization
Louisiana ranks 43rd in unemployment (AHR)

The 43 percent of workers who were underemployed in their first job were five times as likely to be underemployed five years later as those who were not underemployed in their first job (Strada Education). Labor under utilization reflects the extent to which workers are unable to work as fully as desired and/or not doing work that makes full use of their skills and abilities. This brief examines labor underutilization using the following three measures:

US Rate: 6.3% unemployment
LA Rate: 7.6% of people 16-64 are jobless, looking for a job, and available for work
Sources: AHR; Strada Education; US Bureau of Labor and Statistics
Who is affected most?
  • Immigrant workers: Includes highly skilled immigrant workers and foreign degree holders
  • Career changers
  • Students rejected from professional programs
  • Formerly incarcerated people
  • Women ages 25-54
  • People of color, especially those of Asian decent
  • Widowed, divorced, or separated—especially men
  • 25-44 years old; especially men
  • Women, especially Black/ African American and Latinx
  • People with temporary jobs
  • Underemployed people
  • Unemployment decreases with educational attainment
  • Students rejected from professional programs receiving career counseling and accessible or cheap training or retraining are the best practices to continue their careers
  • Right-size credentialing is an economic mobility opportunity for
  • Employer: Cost efficiency (salary matches expectations with credentials), lower turnover (increased job satisfaction),
  • Employee: greater job satisfaction, increased opportunity for professional development, career stability, and upward economic mobility
To combat labor underutilization organizations must create adaptive capacity:
  • Assessment of job required skills, education, and experience by role and industry
  • Develop experience and education equivalency models (Example: 5 years of experience = Degree level)
  • More robust skill development by employer or education partner
  • Learn by emersion
Next Steps:
  • Share findings and job descriptions with right-size credentialing opportunities
  • Identify ways to partner with new industries in Louisiana
  • Total Labor force
  • Total Labor participation
  • Employment rate
Current state of the policy
Interventions that work:
  • Those that focus on training, employing, and retaining those with Risk Factors for unemployment
  • Those that focus on stable employment
  • Those that support higher educational attainment
High school graduation rates in my community
Unemployment by state.
Percentage of civilian workforce ages 16-64 that are unemployed. Click the map below to be directed to the America’s Health Rankings interactive map.
Issue specific to Language and Literacy
Louisiana ranks 47th in literacy (WiseVoter)

Children and adults with limited language skills and low literacy skills are more likely to experience lower educational attainment and less economic mobility (HHS) 

US Rate:
21%, or about 43 million adults, have low literacy skills, bordering on illiteracy (NCES)

LA Rate: 27.1% of people in Louisiana have low literacy skills, bordering on illiteracy (NCES)
Who is affected most?
Higher risk for having limited English language skills and low literacy:
  • Individuals who do not speak English at home
  • Immigrants
  • Individuals with lower levels of education
  • Identify testing and assessment differences for early literacy
  • Identify differences in supports for 1st-4th grade students across states
  • Identify differences in supports for those with limited English proficiency
  • Expand tools for adult and early childhood literacy support networks
  • Proficiency test scores
  • Stratified literacy curriculum/programming
  • o  Educational extenders (Ex: online support in school to assist varied literacy levels)
  • Adult literacy programs and partnerships
  • School systems: college, high schools offering adult literacy classes
Current state of the policy
  • Research indicates that limited language skills and low literacy skills are associated with lower educational attainment and worse health outcomes
  • In 2019, an estimated 21.6% of the United States population age 5 years or older spoke a language other than English at home
  • 100% of individuals who immigrated to the United States between the ages of 1 and 11 years self-reported being fluent in English
  • 1/3 of individuals who immigrated to the United States when they were age 12 years or older reported that they were not fluent in English — varied significantly by race/ethnicity, age at immigration, and amount of formal education prior to entering the United States
  • English-only speakers literacy scores increase by educational attainment, with scores varying by level of education
Louisiana compared to other states:
4th Grade Reading Proficiency
LA (50th)
MS (49th)
AL (46th)
FL (27th)
GA (36th)
Reading, Singing, or Storytelling
LA (50th)
MS (49th)
AL (46th)
FL (27th)
GA (36th)
Literacy Rate
LA (50th)
MS (49th)
AL (46th)
FL (27th)
GA (36th)
Download our Healthy State Fact Sheet on Workforce and Education