Census data: Northern LA loses population, area along I-10 makes major gains

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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – New census data is revealing a shift in population. It’ll change who Louisianans vote for and shows how Louisiana demographics are changing.

The population of Louisiana grew by about 2%. It is not as much as other states, but more than normal.

“Louisiana has not been a fast-growing state relative to the rest of the country since the 1970s because of course we had the crash in oil prices in the 1980s and we’ve never really recovered fully since then,” JMC Analytics Founder John Couvillon said.

Parishes that saw some of the biggest increases in population were Ascension (+18%), Livingston (+11%), Tangipahoa and Bossier (+10%). East Baton Rouge (+4%) and Orleans (+12%) parishes also saw growth. Places in central and northern Louisiana saw major drops, such as Tensas losing 21% of the population. Couvillon said this follows trends around the country where people move to where industry is.

“I-10 gets a lot more national traffic, and so that, plus the petrochemical industry being down here is a catalyst for economic growth,” Couvillon said.

Another major change in the population is based on race. The data shows the state population is 57% white, 31% Black, 2% Asian, 6% two or more races, 4% other. Couvillon said the minority population had a big increase over the last decade, making Louisiana’s more populous parishes more diverse.

In the legislative redistricting session, new lines will be drawn to have balanced populations in each district. This could lead to some north Louisiana lawmakers giving up their seats.

“I’ve calculated that given the population for 2020 in the central and north Louisiana parishes you’re talking about 1-2 State House seats not being there anymore,” Couvillon said.

Politicians are already hard at work strategizing how they will get the maps they want passed in the special session. Legislators will be taking in public input on how people want the districts to be divided up. They will make their final votes in the new year in a special session.

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