Asserting Shreveport as a “Fastest-Growing” City?

by Elliott Stonecipher

Shreveport Times-GrowingThose of us who read the Shreveport Times more or less everyday likely noticed the bold headline in today’s paper, “Shreveport Among Twenty Fastest Growing.”  The story is on the front page.

We certainly wish this were true.  It would be great news for Shreveport.

While the Times article does not tell us who did the study, it does show the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce as the one releasing it.  My guess is that the Chamber found a certain-year period in which this highly positive picture could be painted, with carefully selected age groups, income groups, etc.

Here are the facts, as per the U. S. Census Bureau official Population Estimates program:

(1)  The population in Shreveport as of July 1, 2007 was 199,569, and in the latest data-year July 1, 2012 it was 201,867.  That’s an increase of +1.2%.graph-increased-cost

(2)  The population growth during that period for the Census Bureau’s region of states called “South,” was 5-times as high, +6.2% (110,454,786 to 117,257,221).

(3)  The nation’s population growth during that period +4.1%, 3 1/2-times as high (301,621,157 to 313,914,040).

dunce-cap-hat(4)  Since 1980, Shreveport’s population has lost -3,953 people, or -1.9% (205,820 down to 201,867).  During that same period, Caddo Parish’s population has grown +1.9%.

(5)  The growth in the U. S. population since 1980 has been 20-times as fast as in Shreveport, +38.6% to -1.9%.

(6)  The carefully picked age, labor force and median income assertions must have been taken from some national survey, possibly the American Community Survey.  If so, it should be noted that ACS survey data is very unreliable for any given city in the United States.  In some cases, city data in the ACS for a 5-year data period may be used, but typically not for subgroups as small as those mentioned in the article.  We can only guess about any of this, however, since no such information is provided.

economic-recession-predictions(7)  We all learned last week from the Associated Press that Louisiana was in a relatively deep recession in 2011, -2.5%, and had not pulled out in 2012.  We also know that the Haynesville Shale “pop” in other growth during the years of this study did not bring Shreveport back to even it’s 1980 population levels.  We also know that Shreveporters 16 and over – an age group used in the study – have been dropping in number for decades, e.g., the Caddo Parish public school enrollment drop of 40% since the 1970s desegregation “cross-over.”

It is instructive to us all that during the 1970s through the 1990s, city fathers (Chamber of Commerce and others) used “Shreveport, A City on the Grow” as our motto.  The data proves, however, that such was definitely not the case.  In fact, the supposed “growth” during the period was actually the outcome of an aggressive annexation policy:  the City annexed huge areas – such as what is now Southwest Shreveport, and the Martin Luther King Drive area – to snag federal funds based on population, and other such federal goodies.  What we did, in fact, is extend city services like water, sewer and public safety much further than we could afford to service and maintain them.  We are still paying for that mistake with the highest property taxes in Louisiana, by far.

Again, we certainly wish the Times story, and the “study” on which it is based, were true and accurate.

Elliott Stonecipher

Elliott Stonecipher’s reports and commentaries are written strictly in the public interest, with no compensation of any kind solicited or accepted.  Appropriate credit to Mr. Stonecipher in the unedited sharing of his work is requested and appreciated.