The Truth About Population Out-Migration

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In the debate about U. S. Census data, which reports Louisiana population migration, here is an old and reliable data-set from the U. S. Census Bureau, which underscores questions about the claims being made by the Jindal administration.

Truth?

The Jindal administration has decided to use American Community Survey data from the Census Bureau to make its case that it – and it alone – gets the credit for ending a quarter-century of population out-migration in Louisiana.  The ACS is the Census Bureau’s qualitative random-sample survey instrument administered and reported in one-year, three-year and five-year reports.  The U. S. Census Bureau’s official “Population Estimates”program stresses the lone issue of how population of any given state or other geographic place changes on an annual basis.  These are often identified as “intercensal estimates” in reference to their important function of adjusting populations each year between decennial censuses.

Estimates reports are issued each year which show “Net Migration” of population in the states, which is the subject of the governor’s claims.  These reports are for periods between July 1st of one year and July 1st of the following year, and are reported with a delay of over one year.  In other words, data through July 1, 2009 is the latest available, and by the end of this calendar year, data through July 1, 2010 will be released.

As to the governor’s claims, the issue is the count of Louisiana residents who move into Louisiana in a given year versus those who leave in that year.  Here are the Census Bureau’s reported “net migration” figures since July 1, 2005.  There is no consideration here of the reason a person moved into Louisiana or a person moved out of Louisiana, nor whether the move involved another state or a foreign country:

  1. July 1, 2005 to July 1, 2006  –  Louisiana’s net change in population was a loss of -236,970;
  2. July 1, 2006 to July 1, 2007  –  Louisiana’s net change in population was a gain of +31,853;
  3. July 1, 2007 to July 1, 2008  –  Louisiana’s net change in population was a gain of +16,423;
  4. July 1, 2008 to July 1, 2009  –  Louisiana’s net change in population was a gain of +18,123.

Between July 1, 2005 (Hurricane Katrina hit at the end of the following month, of course) and July 1, 2009, Louisiana’s total population had experienced a NET LOSS of -170,571 residents according to the U. S. Census Bureau.

Given the data from the last three of these reported four years, it is difficult to believe that these official estimates will show a net in-migration of -170,571 when Estimates data through 2010 – the end date of the figures the Jindal administration is using – are released.

[For readers who want to most easily locate these data on the Census website, go to the site, and enter the following description into the “Search” bar:  “Estimates of the Components of Resident Population Change for Counties of Louisiana:  July 1, 2005 to July 1, 2006.”  Re-entry of that title will be required for each subsequent year of data, and in each such entry, you must, of course, change the dates to match the year of data you want to see.]

I hope these additional data – not from the American Community Survey qualitative instrument – help in showing how we in Louisiana would be wise to take great care in declaring victory over the quarter-century Louisiana population curse of out-migration. [PREVIOUS ARTICLE ON OUT-MIGRATION]

Elliott Stonecipher

Evets Management Services, Inc.
6658 Youree Drive
Suite 180, #367
Shreveport, LA  71105
Phone:  318-424-1695

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