Settle: Population trend not good for NWLA

Estimates are just that…educated guesses. And many say this is especially true when it comes to population estimates.

Census data recently released shows that Louisiana was one of eight states to see its population drop last year. The updated population estimates from the U.S Census Bureau are from July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2017.

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For Louisiana the net decrease was fewer than 2000 people. Out migrations outpaced natural increases, that being the difference between births and deaths.

So how did Northwest Louisiana fare? Not good.

The total estimated population of Bossier, Caddo, Webster and Desoto parishes as of July 1 last year was 440,933. This was an overall decline of 4147 from I July 2014.

Not surprising, Bossier and Desoto parishes showed a population gain. In the targeted 3-year window Bossier Parish had a estimated population gain of 2,718. Desoto Parish had a slight population increase of 274 in this period.

In the same interval, Caddo Parish had a population loss of 4,137. Webster Parish also showed a decline of 921.

These estimates, which by their nature are dated, confirm that the population in Caddo and Webster is most likely shifting to Bossier and Desoto Parish.

Looking back to the population estimates on July 1, 2010, the trends are more pronounced.

Caddo’s highest population estimate was 257,354 on July 1, 2013. This number decreased by almost 11,000 in the next four years. The population in Bossier Parish increased by 10,000 from 1 July 2010 to 1 July 2017.

In that 8-year interval, Desoto’s population gradually increased each year.

Webster Parish’s largest population estimate was July 1, 2011. The population declined by almost 2,000 up to July 1, 2017.

The total estimated population of the four parishes only increased by 1,122 during the 8 year interval.

In the coming years, a net overall population increase in the 4-parish area is not likely absent a major economic impetus. This could be the strong rebound in the oil and gas industry or the relocation/establishment of a major manufacturing facility to the area. In all honesty, neither of these two prospects are likely.

John Settle is a Shreveport-Bossier based political columnist