Sunday, March 23, 2008

Politics and Population ...

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On a subject closer to home here is Russell McCulley's take for Reuters on the New Orleans population dispute:

New Orleans officials said on Thursday they will challenge a U.S. Census Bureau estimate that puts the city's population at 239,000 -- just over half the number before Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.

They said other counts have found as many as 300,000 residents in the still-recovering city.

Mayor Ray Nagin told a press conference that a lower number would shrink federal aid, discourage Katrina refugees from returning and harm efforts to rebuild the tourism industry.

"Perception is the first reason our citizens returned and more new people are moving into our community," he said. "It is important, very important, that the world continues to know the truth about New Orleans, and the fact that we are still a major city and we are recovering and the recovery grows every day."

The Census Bureau said on Thursday it estimated that 239,124 people lived in Orleans Parish as of July 2007. That number was up from 210,198 in 2006, but down sharply from 452,170 in July 2005.

It also said that Orleans Parish, which encompasses New Orleans, and neighboring St. Bernard Parish were the nation's fastest-growing counties last year, with growth rates of 13.8 percent and 42.9 percent, respectively.

Katrina struck on August 29, 2005, flooded more than 80 percent of the city and forced a near total evacuation. The storm killed more than 1,400 people and uprooted 500,000 along the Gulf Coast.

Recent studies by local demographers have said as many as 302,000 people live in New Orleans.

City officials said Census Bureau methods do not take into account many poor people who do not file federal tax returns or the influx of migrants who have poured into New Orleans to do rebuilding work.

They said they would present their own data to the bureau for review.

Greg Harper, a Census Bureau demographer who worked on the study, said the city's data would be studied.

"We review every challenge we get on a case-by-case basis," he told Reuters. "It's possible that they could be revised."


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