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Louisiana sees rise in people after Katrina

The regrowth is only a fifth of the quarter- million who fled. The biggest gainers are Nevada and Arizona, and the Southeast.

December 27, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The population of Louisiana fell by a quarter-million people after Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans in August 2005. The damage was so bad, some worried whether anyone would ever come back.

New population estimates released today by the Census Bureau show that in the year ending July 1, the state saw a net increase of about 50,000 people, a 1.2% increase.

Total population in the state is 4.3 million -- an improvement, but still a long way from the 4.5 million who lived there before the storm.

"Things are not all well in New Orleans," said Greg Rigamer, a lifelong New Orleans resident and urban planning expert. "They are clearly getting better," he noted, but "it's no time to be popping the champagne corks."

The Census Bureau estimate is reached by measuring births, deaths and migration into and out of each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

The total U.S. population is estimated at 301.6 million.

In Louisiana, the bureau estimates a net increase of 29,000 people moving into the state from other states, accounting for more than half of the overall jump.

California remains the nation's most populous state, with about 37 million people. It gained about 300,000 residents, second to Texas numerically, but 25th fastest by rate of growth, the same ranking as last year.

The fastest-growing states continue to be in the Southwest and the Southeast. Texas also is still attracting new residents at a rapid rate.

Nevada regained the title of fastest-growing state, having increased in population by 2.9% to 2.6 million. Nevada had held that title for 19 years in a row before being replaced by Arizona last year. Arizona is the second-fastest-growing state according to the current estimate, with a population increase of 2.8% to 6.3 million.

Only two states lost population. Michigan's population dipped by 0.3%, and Rhode Island saw a decrease of 0.4%. Ohio's population level was virtually flat.

Florida, a state whose economy has been fueled largely by a steady stream of retirees each year, gained in population but at a slower rate than usual. Florida was the 19th-fastest-growing state through July 2007. The previous year it ranked ninth.

Florida's population increased by 1.1% to 18.3 million as of July 2007. The previous year the rate of increase was 1.8%.

"If there's one state that's a little surprising, I would say it's Florida," said Greg Harper, a demographer with the bureau.

Besides Nevada and Arizona, other Western states that made the top 10 list for fastest growth were Utah (third), Idaho (fourth), Colorado (eighth) and Wyoming (ninth).

In the Southeast, Georgia was fifth, North Carolina was sixth, and South Carolina was 10th.

Texas, meanwhile, had the seventh-fastest growth by percentage and was tops numerically, having drawn about 500,000 new residents.

The Constitution requires the Census Bureau to count the population every 10 years. The results are used to allocate seats in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as electoral votes.

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