by Elliott Stonecipher
For any of us who care about Louisiana’s population challenges, or about facts over political spin, or about excellent journalism, an online article that went up tonight on the website of The Lens – is a must-read. This work by Thomas Thoren is a decided step forward in the ongoing effort by a handful of us to get past the Jindal administration’s spin on the subject. Only then may we convince state policy makers to confront the meaning and importance of these increasingly troubling trends.
Mr. Thoren, writing with The Lens’ New Orleans emphasis, makes these points among many others:
The data support some narratives about the recovery after Hurricane Katrina and challenge others, including those from the Jindal administration. For instance, while it’s true that New Orleans has experienced some of the greatest growth in the country in recent years, according to some measures that growth is slowing.
And at the current rate of migration, it would take Orleans Parish 20 years to return to its pre-Katrina population — 15 if you factor in the birth rate.
Moreover, the most recent figures show that growth in New Orleans is masking a population loss in the rest of the state. The most recent year for which data is available shows that the state lost population domestically for the second straight year.
Every year since Katrina, the state has gained more residents than it has lost. But with the exception of 2009, each year the the increase has been smaller than the year before.
The most recent data, for 2012-13, showed that 4,203 more people moved into the state than out of it. At that rate, it will take Louisiana about 33 years to recover the migration loss due to Katrina.
Many of you know that Governor Jindal has, throughout his time in office, has claimed to have cured our population outmigration curse. In fact and truth, since the 1980 Census, we have lost just under 605,000 residents to net outmigration. The Jindal claim is based solely in his willingness to say returning storm evacuees are “in-migrants,” as if they were not living here in the first place. Mr. Thoren’s work is very helpful in detailing, with impressive skill, underlying statistics which show the degree to which those claims are, to put it mildly, misleading. I would add that the claims are decidedly counter-productive in their suggestion to anyone that this problem is now behind our state.
To my knowledge, no other journalist’s work on this critical issue has been any more impressively presented. I am pleased to have been included as a source for Mr. Thoren along with Dr. Allison Plyer of the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, Tulane’s Ray Brady, demographer Greg Rigamer. Also notable is the writing on the subject by LSU’s Bob Mann, included by article links to his Something Like the Truth blog.
Mr. Thoren is a young newcomer – a real in-migrant – to Louisiana. We thank him for this work, and respectfully welcome him.
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 sharing – unedited only, please – of his work is requested and appreciated.