New Orleans Population 2017
The estimated population of New Orleans is 369,000, down significantly from a decade ago.
New Orleans is estimated to have 369,000 people in 2013, which is down dramatically from 484,674 in 2000. This is up from the 2010 Census population of 343,800, however, and New Orleans is growing and recovering from Hurricane Katrina that struck its coast in 2005.
The New Orleans metropolitan area has a population of 1.167 million, which makes it the 46th largest in the country, and the New Orleans-Metairie-Bogalusa Combined Statistical Area has a population of 1.2 million.
The city itself currently has a density of 1,965 people per square mile (759/square kilometer), so there's definitely room for growth.
Impact of Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina had a major impact on New Orleans and it was called the "worst engineering disaster in the world since Chernobyl" by Dr. Raymond B. Seed of the University California Brekeley after the Federal levee system failed. The hurricane approached the city in August 2005 and, while most residents were evacuated, the federal flood protection system failed and 80% of New Orleans was flooded.
Tens of thousands of residents who were left in the city were rescued, but many stayed in shelters -- including the Louisiana Superdome -- for days. Officially, 1,500 people died in Louisiana, but there were many more never accounted for.
Tens of thousands of people left New Orleans and never returned, and in 2006, the Census Bureau estimated the population was just 223,000. A year later, 32,000 people returned, which brought the city's population to just 56% of pre-Katrina levels.
In 2013, the US Census Bureau estimated the population of New Orleans at 369,000, which is 76% of its 2000 population, while the metro area has 92% of its 2000 population. Another survey in June 2013 found that more than half of the 72 neighborhoods of New Orleans had recovered 90% of their pre-Katrina population.
While African Americans still represent a majority in the city, their numbers dropped significantly after the hurricane.
New Orleans Demographics
At the 2010 Census, the racial and ethnic composition of New Orleans was:
- African American: 60.2%
- White: 33%
- Asian: 2.9%
- Two or more races: 1.7%
- Hispanic or Latino of any race: 5.3%
In 2006, it was estimated that there are about 10,000 to 14,000 illegal immigrants in New Orleans, mostly from Mexico. Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza, said there may be about 120,000 Hispanic workers in the city.
New Orleans has become more diverse over the last decade, and its Latino population in the metropolitan area has jumped 69% from 2000 to 2012, which is much higher than the national 50% growth.
The French and Spanish colonial history of New Orleans gives its population a strong Catholic traditional, and Catholicism is still the predominant religion. 35.9% of its population is Roman Catholic. There is also a strong presence of Louisiana Voodoo, which is a syncretism with African and Afro-Caribbean Roman Catholic beliefs. While this Voodoo image is promoted a great deal by the tourism industry, there are very few true adherents in New Orleans.
New Orleans History
La Nouvelle-Orleans (New Orleans) was founded in 1718 by the French Mississippi Company on land inhabited at the time by the Chitimacha. The Treaty of Paris in 1763 ceded this French colony to the Spanish Empire, and it became a port to smuggle aid to rebels during the American Revolutionary War.
In 1779, a successful campaign pushed the British from the city, and New Orleans stayed under Spanish control until 1801, when it reverted to France. Napoleon then sold the territory to the United States in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase and it grew quickly as French, Creoles, Americans, Africans, Germans and Irish moved to the region.
The end of the Haitian Revolution in 1804 brought a huge wage of refugees to New Orleans, both white and free people of color, many of which brought African slaves. New Orleans went on to have the largest slave trade for many years. After the Civil War, Louisiana was readmitted to the Union in 1868 and the city of New Orleans continued to grow in size and economic power through the 20th century.
New Orleans Population Growth
In 2012, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 largest cities with the fastest growing populations in the US based on Census Bureau data. New Orleans ranked #1, with 4.9% growth from 2010 to 2011. This is more than 6 times the national average of just 0.73%, although New Orleans remains at 80% pre-Katrina levels.
The good news is that New Orleans is on the rise again, eight years after Hurricane Katrina. In recent years, the population has started to grow and the city recovered all the jobs it lost as of 2012 with new growth in knowledge-based industries. This is good news for The Big Easy, and it's a trend that is expected to continue.
There's no doubt that Hurricane Katrina was a terrible disaster and tragedy, but it gave New Orleans the money and opportunity to rebuild and reinvent itself. The city was saved by the once-imminent fate of Detroit and its real estate market has seen a rebirth.
If current trends hold, New Orleans should have no trouble making its way back to pre-Katrina levels and possibly beyond before the next census in 2020.