Who Lives in New Orleans and Metro Parishes Now?

        The Data Center of New Orleans took the The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey data, analyzed it, and have answered that popular question: Who lives in New Orleans and metro parishes now?

         The comprehensive report, by Nihal Shrinath, Vicki Mack, Whitney Soenksen, Allison Plyer, and George Hobor, includes data on race and ethnicity, age, educational attainment, internet access, poverty, income, children, access to vehicles, foreign-born population, geographic mobility, homeownership, homeowners with a mortgage, housing costs and affordability, single-person households, commuting and housing stock.

         Some findings include:

         The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 1,240,977 residents were living in the New Orleans metro area as of July 2013, a 4 percent increase from April 2010. However, the metro area now has 93 percent of its 2000 population of 1,337,726.

         According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 population estimates, there are now 99,650 fewer African Americans living in New Orleans (Orleans Parish) compared to 2000, but there are also 11,494 fewer whites. Meanwhile, the number of Hispanics grew by 6,023.

         In Orleans Parish, the share of the 2013 population that is African American — while lower than in 2000 when it was 66.7 percent — continues to represent the majority of city residents at 59.1 percent.

         The share of Hispanics in the city increased from 3.1 percent in 2000 to 5.5 percent in 2013; the share of Asians increased from 2.3 percent to 3.0 percent; and the share of whites increased from 26.6 percent to 31.0 percent.

         Meanwhile, Hispanic, Asian, and African American populations increased as a share of the total population in Jefferson, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist and St. Tammany parishes. In fact, the number and share of Hispanics have increased in all eight parishes in the metro area.

         According to the Census Bureau’s 2013 population estimates, there are 99,650 fewer African Americans living in New Orleans compared to 2000. However, the number has grown steadily since 2006 and continues to trend back to the pre-Katrina baseline.

         Between 2000 and 2013, the number of Hispanics in Jefferson Parish increased by 25,941 reaching over 13 percent of the total population. Orleans Parish and St. Tammany Parish gained 6,023 and 7,778 Hispanics respectively, such that, by 2013, the Hispanic share of the population in Orleans was 5.5 percent, and in St. Tammany it was 5.2 percent.

         As of July 2013, there were 103,061 Hispanics in the metro area representing 8.3 percent of the metro population, up from 58,545 representing 4.4 percent of the metro population in 2000. Despite these recent gains, the Hispanic share of the population in metro area parishes is far below the average for the United States, which has grown from 12.5 percent to 17.1 percent of the total population over these 13 years.

         With an influx of Hispanics into the metro area in recent years, the nationalities of Hispanics residing here have grown increasingly divergent from the national Hispanic profile.

         As of July 2013, the largest Hispanic group in the New Orleans metro was Honduran, representing 25 percent of the Hispanic population, up from 14 percent in 2000. This increase was part of a larger trend that has pushed the Central American population of the metro to 43 percent of the Hispanic metro population. In comparison, Central Americans represent only 9 percent of the national Hispanic population. These figures point to the New Orleans metro becoming a hub of Central American migration.

         Not to be ignored, the metro’s Mexican population has increased, and Mexicans are now solidly the second largest group behind Hondurans in the New Orleans metro, representing 24 percent of the Hispanic population. Nevertheless, the Mexican population is much less prominent in the metro than nationally, where it is represents 64 percent of the Hispanic population.

         The progression of the baby boomers through the age ranks, along with falling birth rates, have brought massive changes to the metro — and indeed the whole country — with many more changes yet to come.

         Looking at the total population in the metro by five-year age groups for 2000 and 2013, the baby boomers are like a demographic tidal wave. Consequently, the median age of the metro has risen to 37.3 from 34.8 in 2000.

         Meanwhile, the share of households with children is shrinking while the share of individuals living alone is growing — both across the metro and nation. As of 2013, 26 percent of households in the New Orleans metro included children, down from 34 percent in 2000. Between 2000 and 2013, the percent of St. Tammany households with children declined from 40 percent to 31 percent; the percent of Jefferson households with children declined from 33 percent to 24 percent; and the percent of Orleans households with children declined from 30 percent to 21 percent.

         As households with children have declined, the share of single-person households has grown in the metro and nationwide. The metro area share of individuals living alone grew from 27 percent in 2000 to 32 percent in 2013 — matching the trend for Jefferson Parish. The increase was larger in Orleans Parish, which jumped from 33 to 42 percent.

         While the metro has regained much of the post-Katrina population losses, youth population is substantially lower than pre-Katrina levels. The metro had 358,092 children under 18 years in 2000 and only 281,266 in 2013. Much of this loss was driven by Orleans Parish, where under 18 population declined to 78,845 from 129,408. Under 18 population is now 23 percent of the metro population, 21 percent of Orleans Parish population, and 22 percent of Jefferson Parish population.

         Educational attainment is an important determinant of household incomes, workforce skills, and regional resiliency. The proportion of adults 25 years and older with less than a high school education declined across all three of the largest parishes, leading to a metro-wide decrease from 22 percent in 2000 to 15 percent in 2013. In the city of New Orleans, the share of adults with less than a high school degree fell from 25 percent to 15 percent but is still higher than the U.S. average of 13 percent.

         The metro area decline in the share of adults with less than a high school degree has been coupled with an increase in the share with a bachelor’s degree or higher. In New Orleans, 36 percent of adults 25 and older had a college degree in 2013 — higher than the U.S. average of 30 percent, and up from 26 percent in 2000. The overall metro area share of adults with a bachelor’s degree grew from 23 to 27 percent — lower than the national average.

         While the Great Recession pushed household income down 11 percent in the nation between 1999 and 2013, the median income fell only 7 percent in the metro and was statistically unchanged in the city of New Orleans. However, the 2013 median household incomes of $45,981 for the metro and $36,631 for the city are significantly lower than the U.S. median of $52,250. In Jefferson Parish, median household income declined 13 percent between 1999 and 2013, falling to $46,576.

         Internet access is an important indicator of access to information. Studies have shown that without broadband, computer access, and encompassing technology training services, workers and students are at a disadvantage in the job market and education system. Only 56 percent of households in Orleans Parish and only 64 percent of households in Jefferson Parish have a non-mobile broadband subscription, compared to 68 percent nationwide. St. Tammany is well above the national broadband access rate at 75 percent of households receiving a broadband service.

         Individuals living below the poverty level indicate the economy is not providing all residents with the ability to meet their most basic needs, including food, housing, and transportation. The poverty rate in New Orleans declined from 28 percent in 1999 to 21 percent in 2007, but then rose to 27 percent in 2013, such that it is now statistically unchanged since 1999. Meanwhile, the U.S. poverty rate grew from 12 to 16 percent between 1999 and 2013. In Jefferson Parish, the poverty rate increased from 14 to 19 percent between 1999 and 2013, such that it is now higher than the U.S. average.

         Like the overall poverty rate, child poverty rates in New Orleans and the metro area dropped in 2007 and have since increased again. The New Orleans child poverty rate fell from 41 percent in 1999 to 32 percent in 2007, and then shot back up to 39 percent in 2013 — no different from 1999 according to statistical testing. The metro area child poverty rate dipped to 21 percent in 2007, but ended up at 29 percent in 2013 — a higher rate than in 1999. In Jefferson Parish, the child poverty rate jumped from 20 percent in 1999 to 33 percent in 2013 — greatly surpassing the U.S. child poverty rate, which rose from 17 to 22 percent between 1999 and 2013.

         Post-Katrina, the share of New Orleans households without access to a vehicle has dropped from 27 percent in 2000 to 19 percent in 2013. Nonetheless, at 19 percent, New Orleans’ share is more than twice as high as in neighboring parishes and the nation, indicating the importance of a robust public transportation system and comprehensive evacuation plan.

         A rising foreign-born share of the population may reflect expanding economic opportunities for both high-skilled and low-skilled workers. That share of the population has grown in all three of the most populous metro parishes since 2000, led by a 5 percent gain in Jefferson Parish. By 2013, fully 12 percent of Jefferson Parish population was foreign-born, statistically the same as the U.S. share. In Orleans Parish and St. Tammany Parish, the foreign-born share of the population increased by 2 percent between 2000 and 2013.

         Like the foreign-born population, a rising share of the population who moved into Orleans Parish in the past year may reflect expanding economic opportunities. The most frequent reason people move long distances, such as from one state to another state, is for job opportunities. In addition, the young and well-educated are more likely than others to move long distances. In 2013, 7 percent of the population in Orleans Parish had moved into the parish in the past year, up from 3 percent in 2004. Over half of the new movers into Orleans Parish came from outside the state of Louisiana. In Jefferson Parish, the share of the population who were new movers into the parish was 5 percent in 2004 and has not significantly changed for 2013.

         After Hurricane Katrina, Jefferson Parish and Orleans Parish initially experienced a disproportionate return of homeowners, but as of 2013, both parishes have returned to their pre-Katrina homeownership rates. With a 45 percent homeownership rate in Orleans Parish, a 62 percent homeownership rate in Jefferson Parish, and a 78 percent homeownership rate in St. Tammany, Orleans lags, Jefferson is on par with, and St. Tammany exceeds the national homeownership rate.

         Homeowners without a mortgage own their homes free and clear of any type of loan. A high share of such homeowners usually indicates residents living in the same house for long periods of time, and helps shield neighborhoods from foreclosures. The proportion of metro area homeowners without a mortgage has increased from 35 to 41 percent between 2000 and 2013, driven by changes in Orleans and Jefferson. The share of homeowners without a mortgage jumped from 33 to 45 percent in Orleans and from 35 to 42 percent in Jefferson. One reason for the surge may be that homeowners who returned after Katrina used insurance or Road Home proceeds to pay off their mortgage principal. In fact, Orleans and Jefferson received the first and second largest number of Road Home Option 1 grants among all Louisiana parishes.

         Housing costs and affordability, housing stock, and commuting

High housing costs can limit a region’s ability to attract and retain the workforce essential for a healthy economy. Severe housing cost burdens of more than 50 percent of household income indicate a serious problem in housing affordability. In 2004, the share of severely cost-burdened renters in New Orleans and the U.S. was 24 percent. In the nine years since, that share has spiked to 37 percent in Orleans while rising to only 26 percent nationally. In Jefferson Parish, the share of renters paying more than 50 percent of household income on housing and utilities has also soared, reaching 34 percent in 2013.

         The share of homeowners paying more than 50 percent of household income on their mortgage, taxes, utilities, and insurance is virtually unchanged in metro area parishes and the nation since 2004. There is a clear gap between the rate of housing cost burden for renters vs. homeowners, and that gap has widened.

         The surge in the share of severely cost-burdened renters in New Orleans reflects that the median gross rent (rent plus utilities) has also surged in the city. From 2004 to 2013, monthly rent plus utilities rose from $698 to $925 in New Orleans, a 33 percent increase. Meanwhile, median gross rents increased 20 percent metro-wide compared to only 6 percent nationwide.

         America’s aging housing stock represents both a potential problem and an opportunity. Older homes are less energy-efficient and more expensive to maintain. Moreover, research has shown that lead poisoning in children is correlated strongly with residing in pre-1950 homes. Conversely, in New Orleans, many older homes are protected by preservation laws that have helped retain the historic character of the city.

         In Orleans Parish, fully 41 percent of all housing units are in pre-1950 structures. Meanwhile, in Jefferson Parish, 77 percent of the housing stock was built in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, but just 13 percent of housing stock has been built since 1990. In contrast, in St. Tammany, the majority of housing units are in structures that have been built since 1990.

         A metro region is partially defined by the commuting patterns of its residents. Commuting has been studied more and more as the costs and burdens (physical, mental, familial, etc.) are uncovered. In addition, studies have shown that younger generations are less likely to drive cars, more likely to bike, and more likely to move into urban cores.

         The share of commuters in New Orleans using public transportation declined sharply from 14 percent in 2000 to 7 percent in 2013, while the share in Jefferson Parish dipped as well, with only 1 percent of commuters using public transportation in 2013, down from 3 percent in 2000. But the share of bike commuters in New Orleans rose to 4 percent, giving the city the fifth highest share of bike commuting of the largest 70 cities nationwide. Meanwhile, the metro share of carpoolers fell from 12 percent in 2000 to 9 percent in 2013, as did the Orleans Parish share, from 16 percent to 10 percent.

         The percentage of workers who commute by driving alone has increased within the metro region since 2000 from 73 percent to 79 percent, driven by a 60 to 69 percent rise in Orleans Parish. This goes against the national trend, where the share in driving alone remained steady between 2000 and 2013 and where public transit use has also remained steady.


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