In the 10-year period between July 1, 2002 and July 1, 2012, Louisiana’s net loss of residents who moved away from the state versus those who moved in was -178,715. The data are from the U. S. Census Bureau’s Official Population Estimates series, as shown in the attached table.
In the most recent year for which the data is available, July 1, 2011 through July 1, 2012, Louisiana’s “domestic” or state-to-state migration rolled back over to net population loss after four preceding annual reports had shown domestic migration gains. Those gains tracked the data for years following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The population outmigration loss of -178,715 was offset by a gain of +209,424 residents in the “natural increase” of the population, i.e., births minus deaths.
During the subject ten-year period, Louisiana’s population increased +2.3% (4,496,334 to 4,601,893), an average of less than one-quarter of one-percent per year. The U. S. population during the period increased 9.0%, or about 4-times faster (287,973,924 to 313,914,040), and the cumulative population of the Census Bureau’s South Region of states increased 13.6%, or about 6-times faster (103,197,968 to 117,257,221).
Between the 1980 Census and these most recent Estimates data of July 1, 2012, Louisiana has lost -608,262 residents to net population outmigration, an average of just under -20,000 per year. In the most recent year for which these data are available, the state’s population increased only slightly more from the margin of births-minus-deaths, +21,475. In 1980, Louisiana’s ratio of births-to-deaths was 1.86-to-1.00, meaning almost two babies born each year for each resident who passed away. That ratio has steadily fallen since, down to 1.52-to-1:00 now.
During the subject 10 years, the total loss of -178,715 residents who moved out of Louisiana is the result of a cumulative domestic migration loss of -214,007 residents, somewhat offset by a gain of +35,292 from international migration. Completing the picture, the state gained +209,424 residents by the “natural increase” of births-minus-deaths.
[Domestic migration data from the Census Bureau are taken from federal tax returns – i.e., the tracking of changes from one year to the next in the residential mailing zip codes of filers – or changes in the residential zip codes of those receiving direct federal aid each month, i.e., Social Security, Medicare, or other direct federal aid.
Birth and death data for the “natural increase” component are from direct birth and death reports at the parish/county level, via the National Center of Health Statistics (NCHS).
International migration data are taken from the Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) data, and measure (a) the net migration of the foreign born, (b) net migration between the U. S. and Puerto Rico, (c) the net migration of natives to and from the U. S., and (d) the net movement of U. S. Armed Forces between the U. S. and overseas. ACS data for any single year are subject to very high margins of error, and are thus notably less reliable.]
These data provide information about the return of Louisiana residents who were evacuees from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and to a lesser degree, Ike and Gustav. While the domestic migration data is not a direct proxy for population losses from these storms, they are believed by most analysts to account for a disproportionate part of such population changes in subject years. In such context:
a. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita made Gulf Coast landfalls in the late summer of 2005, on August 29 and September 24, respectively. Prior to that time, Louisiana was well into its extended pattern of significant domestic population migration losses, somewhat offset by gains from international migration. Included in the subject data are three such years prior to the storms, with annual population outmigration losses averaging almost -6,600 per year.
b. For the Katrina / Rita impact data-year July 1, 2005 through July 1, 2006, the total population loss due to population outmigration for Louisiana was -236,970.
c. For four data-years following the year of the hurricanes, but excluding the 2010 decennial census year during which Population Estimates data are not provided by the Census Bureau, relatively sizable population gains for Louisiana from population migration are seen. These data, believed to reflect the return over time of hurricane evacuees, show a +28,865 domestic migration gain for the year following the storms, dropping to +13,555 the next year, +14,647 the next, all the way down to +2,379 in 2010/2011, then rolling over into negative numbers, -1,243, for the most recent data year of 2011/2012.
d. In the “Total Migration” data the same pattern is seen: the total of combined domestic and international migration gains or losses – negative in the data years prior to the storms – continue to fall, from a gain of +31,853 in the first full year of storm evacuee returns, dropping each year to +5,498 in the most recent data year.
As population migration patterns are apparently reverting over time to the pre-storms mean of annual losses, so is Louisiana’s offsetting natural increase from more births than deaths fading. Further, as I have previously reported, those who move away from Louisiana are disproportionately likely to be younger and have better educations, while those in-migrating are disproportionately likely to be less educated, and earning lower incomes, regardless of age.
Cumulatively, these population demographic traits, coupled with negative patterns of population gain/loss, should be of real and current concern to state policy makers. Regardless, public policy in Louisiana continues – more than 30 years into these problems – to ignore each and all of these facts, as well as the future they obviously forecast.
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.