Seven years after Hurricane Katrina, five years after the onset of the Great Recession, and nearly three years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, what does the very latest data say about how the city and region are doing?
New Orleans is a smaller city but is still growing.
- According to the U.S. Census Bureau, New Orleans was the fastest growing large city in the country between 2010 and 2011.
- As of July 2011, the Census Bureau has estimated New Orleans’ population at 360,740, or 74 percent of its 2000 population of 484,674. The metro area, with 1,191,089 residents, has 90 percent of its 2000 population of 1,316,510.
New Orleans is rebounding and, in some ways, performing better than before.
- New Orleans has weathered the recession relatively well. From October 2007 to October 2012, the New Orleans metro experienced a 0.6 percent increase in jobs while the nation lost 3.0 percent of all jobs.
- Entrepreneurship has spiked in the metro area post–Katrina with 427 of every 100,000 adults starting a business during 2008–10 compared to 333 of every 100,000 adults nationally.
- During the 2010–11 school year, 68 percent of New Orleans’ public school students attended schools that pass state standards, up from 28 percent in the 2003–04 school year, 44 percent in the 2008–09 school year, and 59 percent in the 2009–10 school year.
- City of New Orleans sales tax collections for the first six months of 2012 are at $84.7 million — 15 percent higher than the first six months of 2010, and 6 percent higher than the same months in 2005.
- Blight is rapidly declining in New Orleans, down from 65,428 blighted residential addresses in March 2008 to roughly 35,700 in March 2012.
But it’s important to remember that New Orleans has sustained three shocks since 2005.
- Single family home sales in the region fell from 10,334 in the first 11 months of 2007 to 8,230 in the same months of 2012, reflecting the meltdown in the national housing market. Louisiana mortgages in foreclosure have risen from 2.1 percent in December 2008 to 3.2 percent in September 2012.
- The poverty rate in the New Orleans metro declined from 18 percent in 1999 to 15 percent in 2007, but then increased to 19 percent in 2011, such that it is now (statistically) the same as it was back in 1999. In New Orleans itself, the 2011 poverty rate of 29 percent is also statistically the same as it was in 1999 after falling to 21 percent in 2007.
- Like the overall poverty rate, child poverty rates in Orleans Parish and the metro area dropped in 2007 but have since increased again to their 1999 level. In 2011, the child poverty rate was 42 percent in the city and 28 percent in the metro, both higher than the U.S. rate of 23 percent.
- Unemployment in the metro has risen from 3.0 percent in October 2007 to 6.5 percent in October 2012.
- The oil spill and moratorium undercut key industries that drive the New Orleans regional economy such that there are 10 percent fewer natural resources and mining jobs in October 2012 as compared to three years earlier, even as such jobs increased nationally by 26 percent.
Key economic, social, and environmental trends in the New Orleans metro area remain troubling.
- The New Orleans regional economy is largely reliant on legacy industries in decline. The three largest economic driver industries – tourism, oil and gas, and shipping and logistics — shed tens of thousands of jobs between 1980 and 2010.
- Post–Katrina housing is unaffordable with 63 percent of renters in the city paying more than 30 percent of their pre–tax income on rent and utilities in 2011, up from 51 percent of renters in 2004.
- In 2009, the rate of violent crimes per 100,000 residents was 777 in New Orleans, nearly twice the 2009 national rate of 429.
- Since 1932, 29 percent of the wetlands that protect the New Orleans metro area have been lost.
FEMA dollars are still flowing to localities, but Road Home grants and FEMA trailers are ending.
- As of January 2013, FEMA had obligated $9.8 billion for debris removal and infrastructure repairs for the New Orleans metro, with $6.3 billion paid to localities and $3.5 billion still forthcoming.
- As of December 24, 2012, the state has disbursed $8.97 billion in Road Home grants to 129,947 pre–Katrina homeowners. About 14 applications are still pending.
- As of July 2012, zero families in Louisiana are living in FEMA trailers, down from more than 70,000 in August of 2006.
The city and region have experienced demographic shifts post–Katrina.
- The New Orleans metro area is more diverse than in 2000 with a gain of 36,761 Hispanics and 4,552 additional Asian residents. The Latino population in the metro spiked 63 percent between 2000 and 2011 — a rate greater than the nation's 47 percent growth.
- In the city, the Census Bureau estimated 109,903 fewer African Americans in 2011 compared to 2000, but also 16,524 fewer whites and 4,101 more Hispanics. Nonetheless, African Americans still represent the majority of the city's population at 59 percent, down from 67 percent in 2000.
- The percent of New Orleans households without a vehicle fell from 27 percent in 2000 to 19 percent in 2011, and across the metro the percent fell from 15 to 11 percent of all households in 2011.
- In the city of New Orleans, 32 percent of adults 25 and older had a college degree in 2011, up from 26 percent in 2000, and a full three percentage points higher than the U.S. average of 29 percent for 2011. The metro area share of adults with a bachelor’s degree has also increased, from 23 to 26 percent.
For further analysis and recommendations from GNOCDC, see The New Orleans Index at Six at www.gnocdc.org.