New Orleans asks: 'What recession?'
After Katrina, the Big Easy is slowly attracting newcomers and rebuilding its economy.
Mary Knox Merrill/The Christian Science Monitor
So on this day Mr. Weyland – married, bespectacled, and crisp-suited – is on a job hunt in a city that, just a few years ago, many Americans had written off, irrevocably sold down the mighty Mississippi.
"It's hard to believe, but New Orleans has become a legitimate city," he says, riding the St. Charles Streetcar line to a promising follow-up interview. "It's got jobs, great culture, history, and it's a city where people walk, which I like."
As the anchor of Louisiana – the only state with positive employment numbers – New Orleans is back.
Drawn by its walkable streets, antique neighborhoods, and laissez-faire regulation, young American workers are flocking to the Big Easy to stay, sensing an opportunity to redraw the economy and at the same time be a part of something bigger: rebuilding the only major US city to be completely devastated by a hurricane.
In many ways, it's a stunning and irony-laden turnaround for a city whose deep social inequalities were laid bare when hurricane Katrina flooded it 3-1/2 years ago.
It's too early to tell, though, whether New Orleans can build an urban economic model to help lead the nation out of its economic doldrums – or will wind up spinning downward on the tail end of the recession.
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