More people continue to move into Louisiana than leave, according to 2010 estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
But the state lost 1,990 more people with advanced graduate and professional degrees than it gained in the swap, census officials estimated.
Gov. Bobby Jindal saw the survey as positive for the state.
“Of the more than 45,000 jobs that will be created through our economic development wins, we have attracted major new investments or expansions of leading companies,” Jindal said in a written statement.
Jindal said those companies include “Electronic Arts, CenturyLink, Albemarle, Gameloft, and Globalstar that are diversifying our economy and putting Louisiana in competition with professional job hubs like Houston, Atlanta and Dallas.”
Kyle Plotkin, the governor’s press secretary, added: “These are exactly the type of companies that are going to attract those folks with advanced degrees.”
Census officials estimated that 97,889 people moved into Louisiana last year while 88,131 left the state.
“After more than two decades of more people moving out of Louisiana than moving into the state, we now have four consecutive years of more people moving into (the state) than moving out,” Jindal said.
“This is a huge turnaround, and we’re reversing Louisiana’s old problem of out-migration,” the governor added.
Analysts disagreed as to whether the new estimates show Louisiana moving forward.
The numbers of people with bachelor’s degrees were nearly identical for those coming into and leaving Louisiana.
“That’s positive,” said Troy Blanchard, a sociology professor and demographer at LSU. “In the past, we were losing four-year-degree people.”
Blanchard added, however, that the decrease in Louisiana residents with advanced degrees is a “brain drain that is part of a historic trend.”
Last year’s estimated net increase of 9,758 in Louisiana’s population is a positive sign, Blanchard said.
“I think we had kind of a long trend where we were losing people,” Blanchard said. “The statistics that came out today showed that the trend may be reversing itself, and I think it’s a good sign.
“For right now, things seem to be going in the right direction,” Blanchard said.
In Shreveport, independent political analyst Elliott Stonecipher expressed pessimism.
Stonecipher said Louisiana’s population gains from 2007 through 2010 were largely driven by victims of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. He said many of those people left the state for years before returning.
“That’s clearly the case,” Stonecipher said.
“What the governor continues to say very loudly … is he ended all those years of out-migration that had extended” for decades, Stonecipher added.
“It makes no sense,” Stonecipher said. “Jindal saw a political opportunity to claim these (people) as new residents.”
“People are coming here because there are jobs here,” responded Plotkin, the governor’s press secretary. “It is no coincidence.”
“It is simply nonsensical to think we can stop the out-migration of the best-educated Louisianians,” Stonecipher said.
Legislatures and governors in Louisiana have slashed education and health-care budgets in lean years for decades, Stonecipher said.
“We have a machine designed to guide these results,” Stonecipher added. “You know what? It’s working perfectly. It’s called Louisiana government.”
“The governor protected funding for higher education and health care this year,” replied Plotkin. “There were no cuts.”
“The bottom line is that four years in a row of positive in-migration numbers is not happening by coincidence,” Jindal said in his written statement.
“Our sons and daughters are beginning to move back to our state, and more people are moving here because they can find good job opportunities,” the governor said.
Immigration figures released in December 2009 by Louisiana Economic Development showed a population gain of 33,400 in 2007. The same report showed a gain of 17,800 in 2008 and a boost of 18,100 in 2009.
That would make the estimated increase for 2010 of 9,758 a significant downward drop.
But LED Secretary Stephen Moret said each of those previous gains was recorded by the Census Bureau over periods that essentially were fiscal years — not the calendar years the bureau uses to make its American Community Survey estimates.
The American Community Survey estimated gain of 9,758 for Louisiana in 2010 was preceded by an estimated increase of only 497 in calendar year 2009, Moret said.
Moret said the census estimate for calendar year 2008 was a population gain of 1,788. He said the bureau estimated a population increase of 10,560 in calendar year 2007.
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