|Population loss plagues northern Louisiana|
The U.S. Census Bureau recently disclosed its population report for the period of July 1, 2006, to July 1, 2007.
As we suspected, northern Louisiana showed another decline in the region's population. The region, in general, has experienced declines in population at a steady clip since the early 1980s.
People have been abandoning northern Louisiana for a number of reasons, including the pursuit of economic opportunities in other locales or they simply died.
In northeastern Louisiana, Morehouse Parish led the way among parishes that marked population declines for the period ending July 1, 2007. Morehouse lost 491 residents, or 1.7 percent of its population. Tensas Parish lost 173 residents, or 2.9 percent of its population, while Winn Parish lost 163 residents, or 1 percent of Winn's population. Also, West Carroll Parish logged a loss of 145 residents, or 1.2 percent of that parish's population.
Since 1980, Concordia and Franklin parishes each lost 17 percent of their residents. Madison Parish suffered a 26-percent loss of its population, while East Carroll witnessed a whopping 29 percent of its residents either move away or die.
In northwestern Louisiana, Caddo Parish -- the home of Shreveport -- showed a loss of 860 residents, or 0.3 percent of Caddo's population, for the period ending July 1, 2007.
Across the Red River from Shreveport, though, Bossier Parish managed to post a growth of more 1,000 residents, or some 1 percent of it population.
Bossier Parish's growth was not surprising. The parish has benefited for years from people moving from Caddo and elsewhere to Bossier because of the parish's solid public school system and for a host of other reasons, including the perception that the crime rate in Bossier is less than Caddo's. It should be noted as well that Bossier Parish is the home of Barksdale Air Force base, which serves as Bossier's anchor on the economic development front.
Back in northeastern Louisiana, it would be worth our time to reflect upon population trends in the region's largest parish, or the hub of the region.
That would be Ouachita Parish.
From 1990 to 2006, Ouachita's population grew from 142,191 residents to 149,259. That's a minuscule growth of some 7,000 residents in roughly 16 years.
During that same period, or from 1990 to 2006, the city of Monroe's population declined from 54,909 residents to 51,555. Meanwhile, the city of West Monroe's population dropped from 14,096 residents to 13,028.
Clearly, the minor growth Ouachita experienced over the past 16 years or so occurred in the unincorporated areas of the parish.
Yet, the population figures for all of northern Louisiana raise a question.
Why is the region losing residents?
"It's just what happens year after year. People grow up in northern Louisiana and they leave," said Elliot Stonecipher, a demographer and political consultant who resides in Shreveport.
More to the point, people have left northern Louisiana to find good-paying jobs, which simply are hard to come by in our region of the state.
It is an alarming trend that shows no signs of reversing its course.