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Post-Hurricane Population Data Released

Gulf Coast Population Decline Significant in Louisiana and Mississippi


Updated June 14, 2006
Data released today by the United States Census Bureau show that nearly one in ten Louisiana residents fled the state following last year's hurricane season. Louisiana's population decreased from about 4,068,028 from January through August 2005 to about 3,688,996 from September through December 2005, the Bureau estimates. This is a loss of 379,032 residents or 9.32% of the state's population following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.

Some hurricane-impacted parishes (the Louisiana equivalent of counties) saw huge numbers of residents leaving while others saw significant increases as displaced hurricane victims relocated throughout the state.

In one extreme example of population loss, the coastal Louisiana parish of St. Bernard (southeast of New Orleans), saw 94.8% of its population leave and not return by January 1, 2006. St. Bernard's population fell from 64,576 on July 1, 2005 to 3,361 six months later, a loss of 61,215 residents.

The parish containing New Orleans, Orleans Parish, has the second largest percentage drop in residents as well as the largest numeric loss in population. With a pre-disaster population of 437,186 on July 1, 2005, Orleans Parish's population dropped 63.8% to a mere 158,353 on January 1, 2006.

On the other hand, tiny St. Helena Parish, located just northeast of Baton Rouge, saw the largest population increase in the six months following July 1, 2005. The parish grew from a population of 10,187 to 10,920 six months later. In terms of overall numerical increase, East Baton Rouge Parish took in the most refugees by adding nearly 17,000 residents in six months with a half-year growth rate of 4.3% from 396,735 to 413,700 residents.


The state of Mississippi lost approximately 71,681 residents for a total population decrease of 2.7%. In Gulf Coast Mississippi, the county surrounding Gulfport and the county to the west, Harrison and Hancock, respectively, has the greatest out migration of residents. Harrison County shrunk from 186,530 to 155,817 losing 30,713 and shrinking approximately 16.5%. Hancock County had a population of 46,240 on July 1, 2005 but by January 1, 2006 the total remaining residents numbered 35,129, a decrease of more than 24%.


The population of Texas grew only slightly after the hurricanes and while some of this growth may be attributable to the hurricanes, Texas is a rapidly growing state so the population increase of less than a half percent following the storms is not significant.

Nonetheless, few counties in Texas decreased in population following the hurricanes and most counties in the disaster declared region saw population increases. Houston's Harris County received 92,824 immigrants, growing 2.54% from 3,647,656 to 3,740,480. As many news outlets have reported, Harris County and the city of Houston have been beleaguered by the population increase, resulting in an increase in violent crime and other related civic issues.

See Page Two for information and data about demographic change in Louisiana following the hurricanes.

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