BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana's wage growth was cut in half during the third quarter, dragged down primarily by agriculture losses caused by tariffs and flooding.
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported wages grew at 2.3 percent during the third quarter, down from 4.8 percent in the second quarter and down from a robust 6.6 percent in the first quarter.
Gov. John Bel Edwards addressed the slowing growth at his end-of-the-year press conference Thursday at the Governor's Mansion and in a statement.
"We've seen news just today that the impact the tariffs are having on our economy is exactly what was projected and feared," Edwards said.
The governor said agriculture and the petrochemical industry have suffered the most in President Trump's trade war.
Agriculture is among the state's biggest industries with an annual total economic impact of $11 billion to $13 billion.
Edwards asked Trump to reconsider the strategy in a letter to the president last summer.
“For two consecutive quarters, Louisiana’s personal income growth was among the highest in the nation,” Edwards said. “Today, we’re seeing the negative effects these tariffs coming down from Washington will have on our economy. In July, I sounded the alarm to the White House on what these tariffs would mean for multiple industries in our state, from agriculture to our booming petrochemical facilities.
"I’ll continue to work with our Congressional delegation and the White House to ensure we do not let this flawed policy do any more harm to Louisiana’s economy,” he said in a statement.
Agriculture wages declined $101 million during the third quarter with the soybean crop taking the biggest hit.
Earnings in the oil and gas sector fell by $75 million.
China, the largest importer of Louisiana soybeans, stopped buying the state's beans in retaliation to Trump's tariffs.
The state's soybean crop was also heavily damaged by flooding rains with thousands of acres left rotting in the fields.
"It was a double whammy of weather and tariffs," Louisiana Farm Bureau President Ronnie Anderson said. "We had no outlet and nowhere to go with the damaged beans."
China has since began buying Louisiana's soybeans again, but not before much damage was already done.
"It's been a hard year for agriculture," Anderson said.
Despite the slowing wage growth, Edwards touted the direction of Louisiana's overall economy, saying the state's gross domestic product has reached an all-time high and consistent job growth since the state emerged from a recession in Oct. 2017.
"We've come too far to let (tariffs) to get in the way of our economic progress," he said.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1