Thursday, April 08, 2010

What Will the 2010 Census Say about New Orleans?

April 7, 2010
Suspense Builds Over Census for New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS — Nobody really knows how many people live here.

Ever since this city was full of water and nearly empty of residents in September 2005, the true size of New Orleans has been a matter of wild uncertainty. Even today, population estimates can swing by the tens of thousands.

“There’s a range out there that might be as big as 50,000,” said Ken Hodges, chief demographer for Nielsen Claritas, a market research firm. “There is still a substantial amount of uncertainty.”

By early 2011, however, the city’s population will finally become an official number, if not a hard fact.

This year’s census will be revealing and important in every city, of course, according to the crude math that each citizen equals a certain amount of government money and political clout. But the stakes of the census here, as in other hurricane-battered cities and towns from Moss Point, Miss., to Galveston, Tex., are more profound.

The final numbers, no matter how much people here may challenge them — and challenges are almost a certainty — will go far in determining how New Orleans thinks about itself, whether it is continuing to mount a steady comeback or whether it has sputtered and stalled, how far it has fallen in the ranks of the country’s cities, and how quickly it is likely to rise again.

Determining how many people live here will not be an easy task, given the thousands who are still homeless or living with relatives as they await permanent housing, and the bureau is allowing some unconventional counting practices. The results should show who the city’s residents are, answering one of the most agonizing questions that has lingered after Katrina: What is the true size of the city’s black majority, once as large as two-thirds of the population?


Read the full story (w/images) HERE.

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