By Elliott Stonecipher
Caddo Parish’s latest check-up by Dr. Census didn’t go very well. Even given that such visits have been less than encouraging for a long time, this latest one reveals some particular problems.
In this report of official U. S. Census Bureau Population Estimates for July 2011 to July 2012, Caddo ekes out a population gain of 181 people – well within the margin of statistical error – setting the most-current population figure at 257,083. Some well known sore spots have worsened :
(1) Our population’s “natural increase” for the year, which is births minus deaths, was +1,107. The ratio of births-to-deaths is 1.41 births for every death. In the previous year July 2010 to July 2011, that gain was +1,264, and the ratio was 1.49-to-1.00. The national average ratio is 1.59-to-1.00, and the South region’s average is 1.56-to-1.00.
(2) As to any population gains from people moving into the parish less those who moved out – “net migration” as it’s called – Caddo lost -956 people.
(3) So, a gain of +1,107 from natural increase, but a loss of -956 from the net count of people leaving Caddo, with a narrowing ratio of births-to-deaths.
Now, let’s add context. In the three-decade period between 1950 and 1980, Caddo’s population grew 42.9%, from 176,547 to 252,358. That growth rate was somewhat lower than the nation’s during that period, 49.7%. Then, in the 32 years since 1980, Caddo’s population stagnated, growing only 1.9%, from 252,358 to 257,093. The U. S. population during that period has risen 38.6%, more than 20-times faster.
For those who wonder what an expanded geographical view shows, a meaningful proxy is the combination of Caddo, Bossier, Webster and DeSoto Parishes. Between 1950 and 1980, the population in the 4-parish region grew 45.4%, a bit stronger than Caddo’s 42.9%, but a bit weaker than the national rate of 49.7%. Fueled by Bossier Parish’s more recent growth, the population growth of the four parishes since 1980 has been only 11.1%, compared to the national rate of 38.6%. Even with Bossier’s growth, the national rate is 3-1/2-times faster. And, if we care to expand the geography to include the entire state, the 38.6% national growth rate between 1980 and July 1, 2012 is over 4-times faster than the state’s close-to-lowest rate in the nation of 9.4%
For the record, Shreveport’s population is just under 80% of the Caddo total, and between 1980 and July 1, 2011, the latest published data, the city has 4,845 fewer residents.
When any of us sees or hears debate of community issues such as the privatization of LSU Health, or job-growers like the Hwy. 3132 Extension to the Port, or the complete restructure and refinance of Caddo public schools, or the future of LSU-Shreveport, or the near-collapse of human infrastructure at Shreveport City Hall, or our place in national energy independence by 2025, listen-up … it matters. Caddo’s “system” of doing what public policy is set to do continues to fail, and no bail-out awaits us. That system is ours. We put it in place. We don’t change it. We get what we designed it to do.
Ironically, the Census Bureau headline above the article attached to these new Estimates was, “Oil and Gas Boom Driving Population Growth …”. Let’s think about that: the numbers set-out above included our Haynesville Shale benefit. Where would we be without it?
In population study, births, deaths and migration are the only tests Doc Census has to run. When he’s done with them, Caddo’s expected gain from births-less-deaths is narrowing, and the outmigration drain continues. If the physical exam is mine or yours, the doctor just told us our arteries are hardening at an accelerating pace, with our caregivers streaming out the backdoor. Ours is a genetic illness, it seems, since our regional and statewide brothers and sisters are also among the nation’s least healthy.
System theory posits that at any given time, all things are either growing or dying; that there is no such thing as “sustainable stasis.”
I often write and say that … because it’s worth noting and repeating.
Elliott Stonecipher’s reports and commentaries are written strictly in the public interest. No compensation of any kind has been solicited or accepted for this work. This work is protected, and no other use of it is permitted without the written consent of Mr. Stonecipher.