Nathan Stubbs

Bizjournals predicts population shifts

by Nathan Stubbs

Online business pub Bizjournals has looked into its crystal ball to prognosticate what populations will be in 250 U.S. metro areas in the year 2025. Bizjournals is the online division of American City Business Journals, the owner of 40 metropolitan business newspapers. Among the biggest losers, according to the listing, will be the city of New Orleans. The journal qualifies that its indicators may be skewed due to Katrina:

The biggest declines are projected for two metros along the Gulf of Mexico — Gulfport, Miss., down 23 percent, and New Orleans, down 19.3 percent. Both areas were devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. That damage affected their projection formulas, which were based on population trends from the past decade. It remains to be seen if the two metros will suffer long-term drops or will eventually recover from their short-term losses.

The study predicts metropolitan New Orleans' population dropping from 1,312,400 to 1,058,900. Lake Charles, Monroe and Shreveport are also projected to lose population.

The two areas in the state with populations on the rise are Lafayette and Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge is projected to near 1 million people over the next 15 years, with its population rising 29 percent from 729,366 to 944,011. Lafayette’s population is estimated to rise 21 percent, from 247,214 to 298,083. The journal notes that its projections are extrapolations of recent county-by-county growth patterns within each state. “Projecting population growth is as much an art as a science,” Bizjournal writes, “and often an inexact art at that. But it still offers an interesting, useful and provocative view of the future.”