WASHINGTON — Louisiana appears to be rebounding from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, gaining 50,000 residents in the year ending July 1, according to new Census Bureau state population estimates released today.
After the storm hit in August 2005, the bureau estimated the state lost 250,000 residents. Despite the most recent gain, the state is far from returning to its pre-Katrina population level of 4.5 million.
The Census Bureau estimate is reached by measuring births, deaths and migration into and out of each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
In Louisiana, the Census estimates a net increase of people moving into the state of 29,000, accounting for more than half the jump. "That's a pretty big number," said Greg Harper, a demographer with the bureau.
The fastest-growing states continue to be in the Rocky Mountain region and the Southeast. Texas also is still attracting new residents at a rapid rate.
Nevada returned to the top spot, having increased in population by 2.9 percent to 2.6 million. Nevada held that title for 19 years in a row before being bumped off by Arizona last year. Arizona is the second-fastest-growing state according to the current estimate, with a population increase of 2.8 percent to 6.3 million.
Only two states lost population. Michigan's population dipped by three-tenths of a percent, and Rhode Island saw a decrease of four-tenths of a percent. Ohio's population was virtually flat.
Florida, a state whose economy has been fueled largely by a steady stream of retirees crossing the border each year, gained in population but at a slower rate than usual. Florida was the 19th-fastest-growing state through July, compared with the previous year when it ranked ninth.
Florida's population increased by 1.1 percent to 18.3 million. The previous year the increase was 1.8 percent.
"If there's one state that's a little surprising, I would say it's Florida," Harper said.
Besides Nevada and Arizona, other Western states that made the Top 10 list for growth were Utah and Idaho, ranked third and fourth. In the Southeast, Georgia was fifth nationally, North Carolina was sixth, and South Carolina was 10th.
Texas, meanwhile, had the seventh-fastest growth by percentage, and tops numerically, having drawn about 500,000 new residents.
California remains the nation's most populous state with about 37 million people. It attracted about 300,000 new residents.
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