Tom Jacobsen: New Orleans Update

December 16th 2009 02:42 pm

Copyright © 2009 Tom Jacobsen

Howard suggested I submit the following:

For those wondering about the state of New Orleans in the five years since Katrina, I recommend the just released demographic report by the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. It is based on US Census data from 2000 and 2008. Among its findings are:

  • The city’s population has fallen from ca. 485K (2000) to ca. 312K (2008). The metro area has shrunk from ca. 1,132,000 to ca. 976K.
  • The city’s black/African American (vs. white) population has fallen from ca. 67% to ca. 61%. For the metro area it is 37% to 34%.
  • The city’s poverty rate has fallen from 28% to 23%.

The full report is available at

The latest I’ve seen on local unemployment is that it is ca. 7%, hence lower than the national average. This can be attributed, at least in part, to construction and repair of housing in the flooded areas of the city (80% of the city). Also very noteworthy are the wonderful projects being carried out in the Ninth Ward: the Musicians’ Village in the Upper 9th started by Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr. (see and the Make It Right project in the Lower 9th started by actor Brad Pitt ( These projects would make fine gift recipients at this time of year–as, indeed, would the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic ( All are extremely worthy undertakings, trust me.

The local music scene plugs along in reasonably good fashion, despite a reduction in tourism and conventions since Katrina. You may not have seen that NOLA was chosen by the Society of American Travel Writers as the #1 city in North America for live music. We’ll be choosing a new mayor (to replace the infamous Ray Nagin…) next year, and there are a dozen or so candidates vying for our consideration. One who was seriously being pushed to run was trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, but he recently dropped out of the running. Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu (brother of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu), a friend of N. O. music and culture, recently threw his hat into the ring. So, it should be an interesting year coming up, politically. (I think there will be 5 elections during the year, which affects me as a poll commissioner–a job I’ve been doing since Katrina.)

Cheers to all for the holidays,

Tom Jacobsen

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