Population tracker suggests continued growth of New Orleans

August 24, 2007
Reported by Associated Press

New Orleans hasn't recovered 75 percent of its population, as Mayor Ray Nagin thought it would by the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  But there continues to be positive signs about the number of people returning.

The latest review, released today, shows the number of households receiving mail in the city is about two-thirds what it was before Katrina.  The report based on U.S. Postal Service data shows 133,966 households in New Orleans got mail in July.

That compared to 198,232 in July 2005 -- the month before Katrina hit and left most of the city underwater.

The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center released the report.  It says the federal government has used postal data as the "best source of timely data for making objective assessments about the repopulation of this area."

How many people have returned has been a matter of debate as the city continues to recover. Earlier this month, consultant and demographer Greg Rigamer estimated about 273,600 people in New Orleans in July.  That's about 60 percent of the pre-storm population of 455,000. Rigamer bases his figures on various data, including utility-hookups.

Nagin has said he believes the population tops 300,000, if all the migrant workers in the city were counted.

In an interview this week, Nagin said his goal was to get at least 75 percent of the city's population back by now but that he didn't anticipate the slow recovery. Parts of the city remain in shambles, with empty houses and overgrown lots, and violent crime is a problem.