A new report from the finance website 24/7 Wall Street finds Monroe is the fourth poorest city in the country. ULM economics professor Dr. Robert Eisenstaedt says this isn’t surprising because Louisiana as a whole is a poor state, and the northeast part of the state tends to be even poorer.

“For the most part, it’s a pretty poor region in a very poor state. The area itself tends to have a median income that’s roughly 25% to 30% below the national average,” Eisenstaedt said.

According to the 24/7 Wall Street report, Monroe has a poverty rate of about 24% and an unemployment rate of just over 6%. Eisenstaedt says Monroe has been a poor city almost since its birth. He says the best way to reverse this trend is through education.

“An educated labor force tends to attract more jobs and different jobs, and that’s always a strong anti-poverty program,” Eisenstaedt said.

Eisenstaedt says the workforce is becoming a little more diverse. The growth of CenturyLink is helping in that area. He says a positive for Ouachita parish is that it’s not impacted by the downturn in the oil industry.

“We tend to have a relatively more robust and diversified economy than the rest of the oil-dependent areas of the state right now, and I think that’s a good thing,” Eisenstaedt said.