According to the United States Census Population Estimates Program, in 2006, Louisiana had a total population of 4,287,768 people, representing a 4.1% decrease since the 2000 Census (or a loss of a little more than 180,000 people between the years 2000 and 2006). At first glance, one may assume these numbers are entirely indicative of the net out-migration caused by Hurricane Katrina. After all, Katrina resulted in the destruction of over 275,000 homes and the loss of over 1,800 lives. Some conservative pundits seem almost gleeful at this population loss, opining that the loss primarily affected New Orleans African-Americans (who, they claim, constituted “the base” of the Louisiana Democratic Party). By their logic, all of those 180,000 people that Louisiana lost from 2000 to 2006 were registered Democrats who habitually voted in every major election, representing some sort of fictional political machine.
However, based on more recent population estimates and mail deliveries, we now know that New Orleans is currently up to 86% of its pre-Katrina population, which would represent a loss of only 67,000 people and which indicates that New Orleanians have continued to return in large numbers. Moreover, these numbers do not include the thousands of New Orleanians who simply relocated to places like Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Monroe, Alexandria, Houma, and Shreveport. The American Community Survey, an arm of the Census, reveals that these municipalities and the parishes in which they are located have gained population since 2000. In other words, current data indicates that Louisiana’s population has grown significantly since December of 2006.