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Posted: Tuesday, 30 April 2013 6:06AM

Population trends show metro is closer to pre-Katrina levels

The New Orleans metro area is seeing a surge in repopulation, with the Northshore maintaining the top spot for growth.

The seven parish metro area is now just 9% below pre-Katrina levels says local demographer Greg Rigamer, and it's due to new people moving here, based on building permits for the first quarter of 2013. 

But that growth is not spread evenly between all seven parishes, with St. Tammany seeing the most people migrating there.  "But we're also seeing an interesting increase in building permits in Orleans Parish, and also to an extent Plaquemines Parish.  The first quarter reports from the Census Bureau indicate that Plaquemines is growing, but Plaquemines is a very small community...so small numbers can create a statistical blip, because it doesn't take much to influence it."

Rigamer says for all of 2012, Orleans and St. Tammany were the two real attractors.

And St. Tammany may be in for a banner year with first quarter commercial and residential building permits up almost 30%. 

Rigamer says the other parishes are also seeing at least some gains in population since the Census count in 2010, and not losing a lot due to migration to other parishes.

And if you delve deeper into numbers in the individual parishes, it's not uniform growth.  When it comes to Orleans Parish, Rigamer says, "Clearly there is growth in the downtown area, the Warehouse District and of course, Lakeview."  Seeing recovery, as opposed to actual growth he says, is Gentilly and New Orleans East. 

In St. Tammany, parish officials attribute the increase to "Continued economic growth in a recovering economy, the ability to apply for permits online, and the ease of working with the Department of Development to facilitate a one stop shopping experience in the construction process.

Rigamer provided the below graph that shows the relationship between housing and population:

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