Neighborhood Change Rates: Growth continues through 2017 in New Orleans neighborhoods
Published: Aug 17, 2017
In March of this year, the U.S. Census Bureau released its 2016 estimate of the total population of New Orleans, confirming that the population of the city grew by 1,757 people from 2015 to 2016.
Many headlines have incorrectly stated that more people are leaving New Orleans than arriving, but according to the Census, about 260 more people moved to New Orleans than moved out of New Orleans over the last year. Add to this births and subtract deaths, and the total estimated population of New Orleans has grown to 391,495.
Where are reporters getting the idea that more people are leaving than coming? They are looking only at the domestic migration estimate, which is a negative 759. But they are failing to look at the international migration estimate which is a positive 1,020. Estimating the movement of people into and out of any parish is difficult and has some limitations1. Nonetheless, there is no data to support the assertion that more people are leaving than moving to New Orleans. The bottom line is that New Orleans continues to grow.
New Orleans’ population not only continues to grow, but its growth rate is relatively strong. Looking at change since the last Census head count in 2010, the Census Bureau calculates that the New Orleans population grew 14 percent by 2016, resulting in a ranking of 63rd on population growth out of 714 U.S. cities with populations of 50,000 or more2.
For a closer and more up-to-date look at New Orleans’ neighborhood change, the number of active residential addresses based on U.S. Postal Service data is a useful indicator of population growth as recent as June 2017. All told, New Orleans households receiving mail increased 15 percent from June 2010 to June 2017, with 67 of 72 neighborhoods experiencing gains. Topping this list is the Central Business District which has added 1,986 residences since 2010. Many neighborhoods that flooded when the levees failed in 2005 grew substantially from 2010 to 2017. Little Woods, Central City, Lakeview, and Seventh Ward all gained more than 1,000 households. Mid-City, Filmore, Lower Ninth Ward, St. Bernard area, Treme/Lafitte, St.Roch, Holy Cross, and West Lake Forest all gained between 600 and 1,000 households. Only five neighborhoods lost households from 2010 to 2017. Of those neighborhoods, four were on the west bank (Behrman, McDonogh, Old Aurora, and U.S. Naval Support Area).
Looking at change from June 2016 to June 2017, postal data indicates that the New Orleans population grew an additional one percent over the last year. The data shows that 85 percent of the city’s neighborhoods experienced an increase in active residences from 2016 to 2017.
Twelve years after Katrina, there are 21 neighborhoods in the city that now have a larger number of active addresses than they did prior to the levee breaches. Four neighborhoods have less than half the population they had prior to Katrina, including three public housing sites that have been demolished to make way for new mixed–income housing: B.W. Cooper, Florida Development, and Iberville. The Lower Ninth Ward, where the surge of water was so strong it knocked homes completely off their foundations, also has less than half the population it had prior to Katrina.
While not alarming, the latest Census estimates do suggest that growth of the New Orleans population is now less dependent on returning residents. To be sure, the total population of the metro area will rise and fall with economic growth, but workers and their families will choose the parish they find most attractive to live. New Orleans’ ability to attract additional population will be largely dependent on availability of affordable housing, reliable transportation to job centers, low crime rates, and appealing amenities.
 The Census relies on documented international migration data, as well as change of addresses on IRS tax forms and Medicare forms to estimate international and domestic movements. However, this method cannot capture all migration. Specifically, undocumented immigrants, low-income people who don’t file taxes, and even young professionals who continue to file their taxes at their parents’ home in a different state or county…all of these groups are not well captured in the Census’ estimation methodology.
 U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. (May 2017). Cumulative Estimates of Resident Population Change for Incorporated Places of 50,000 or More in 2010, Ranked by Percent Change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2016 [Data file]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov