The Census Bureau reported on Thursday that 343,829 people were living in the city of New Orleans on April 1, 2010, four years and seven months after it was virtually emptied by the floodwaters that followed the hurricane.
The numbers portray a significantly smaller city than in the previous census, in 2000, though it should be said that New Orleans had been steadily shrinking even then. In 1990, it was the 24th-biggest city in the country, in 2000, the 31st, and now it has surely dropped from the top 50.
According to Andrew A. Beveridge, a Queens Collegesociologist who analyzed the census results for The New York Times, the city has roughly 24,000 fewer white residents than it did 10 years ago, though the proportion of the white population has grown to 30 percent.
The city has 118,000 fewer black residents. New Orleans, once more than two-thirds black, is now less than 60 percent black.
It is commonplace among humans to assume that bigger is better than smaller, but not everyone buys that argument:
“It’s not an unqualified good thing to have big numbers,” said Mark VanLandingham, a professor at Tulane University who has expressed frustration with frequent calls from local officials, sometimes successful, for the Census Bureau to raise the city’s population estimate. “It made it very difficult to figure out what was actually going on.”
The story about this in the NY Times has a very nice interactive map that allows you to visualize the geography of change in New Orleans.