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maddvector 05-03-2007 10:40 PM

City's population up 14 percent since July 2006
Posted by The Times-Picayune May 03, 2007 9:19PM

Research firm's latest survey shows city's hardest hit neighborhoods _ including Gentilly and eastern New Orleans _ leading the resurgence in population growth.

By Laura Maggi
Staff writer

The return of New Orleanians since last summer to neighborhoods that were hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina is responsible for a rebound in population to 255,000 people living within the city limits as of March, according to the latest population estimates released Thursday by a New Orleans research firm.

The 255,000 figure developed by GCR & Associates Inc. is a substantial jump -- 14 percent -- over the U.S. Census Bureau's estimate that there were 223,000 people living in New Orleans as of July 2006. The Census Bureau estimated the entire New Orleans area's population at that time to be just over 1 million residents.

In coming up with the latest estimate, researcher Greg Rigamer focused only on New Orleans.

"There are more people coming than going," said Rigamer, head of the consulting company, adding that he has a lot of confidence in the figure his firm has developed. Rigamer's tally pegs the population at 56 percent of the 454,000 people who the Census Bureau estimated lived in Orleans Parish before the storm.

GCR, which has been tracking the city's population by looking at utilities, building permits and other data that show whether people have returned to their homes, compared the level of activity this past March to what was recorded in July 2006. Not suprisingly, the steepest increases were in areas that were hardest hit, which after the storm saw the most dramatic decreases in population.

For example, the City Council District D, which includes Gentilly, parts of the lakefront and a piece of eastern New Orleans close to the Industrial Canal, showed a 53 percent increase to a population to 32,000 in March 2007. Council District E, which encompasses the rest of eastern New Orleans, the lower Ninth Ward and the Desire neighborhood, also saw a 50 percent increase in population to 29,236 people, according to the GCR study.

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