New Orleans metro area population at 87.5% of pre-Katrina level

New Orleans, La. - The New Orleans metropolitan area added 8,000 new residents over the past year, and the total population stands at approximately 1.2 million residents, or 87.5% of the pre-Katrina population, according to the May 2012 edition of the University of New Orleans Metropolitan Report.

Employment in the New Orleans metro area grew by 1.5% over the past year, bringing in more than 7,800 local jobs. The unemployment rate in the New Orleans metro area decreased slightly over the past year to 7.2% from 7.5%.

Highlights of the May 2012 edition of Metropolitan Report:

  • Industries with the strongest employment gains in the New Orleans area over the past year include professional and business services and leisure and hospitality. Employment increased by 6.3% (4,300 jobs) in the professional and business services sector and by 4.2% (3,000 jobs) in the leisure and hospitality sector.
  • The most substantial job losses in the New Orleans area occurred in construction (3,200 jobs), financial activities (1,400 jobs) and manufacturing of transportation equipment (1,300 jobs).
  • Tourism in the New Orleans area continues to improve each year. 8.75 million visitors came to the New Orleans area in 2011, marking a 5.5% increase over the 8.29 million visitors who came in 2010. Visitor spending also rose by 3.6%, increasing from $5.5 billion in 2010 to $5.7 billion in 2011.
  • Motor vehicle sales increased 2.1% over the last year in the New Orleans area. Sales in the local market for motor vehicles appear to be returning to pre-Katrina levels, with the latest figures reaching 94.2% of those observed immediately prior to the storm.

To view the full report, go to