Census: Baton Rouge metro area trending up from 2012-13

The nine-parish Baton Rouge metro area’s population has been on a modest incline since 2010 and now boasts about 820,000 residents, according to data the U.S. Census Bureau released Thursday.

The figures, which are the latest population estimates for parishes and Census Bureau-defined metropolitan statistical areas, show that much of the growth in the Baton Rouge area was in Ascension, West Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes, which from 2012 to 2013 saw 2.02 percent, 2 percent and 1.66 percent population increases, respectively.

East Baton Rouge Parish saw a slight 0.21 percent uptick, equal to about 1,000 new residents, a figure that indicates a possible rebound from data released earlier this year showing the parish lost 1,463 residents from 2007 to 2012.

Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks said he believes schools and relatively low crime rates are a driving force behind the growth in his parish, which now has more than 134,000 residents.

“It does create some infrastructure issues, so what we’re trying to do is get a master plan in place for future growth,” Ricks said. “We know we need to concentrate on getting sewer and water all in place to accommodate the growth that’s coming.”

In 2012, Livingston Parish officials were told by researchers they could see the parish’s population double over the next 15 to 18 years.

“We’re beginning to sense that and see it,” Ricks said.

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber has predicted the nine-parish Baton Rouge metro area — which covers Ascension, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, West Baton Rouge and West Feliciana parishes — will continue to see its population grow to 850,000 residents in the next five years.

From 2012 to 2013, the nine-parish Baton Rouge metro area grew by 0.65 percent.

By contrast, the five-parish Lafayette metro area and the eight-parish New Orleans-Metairie metro area each saw population grow from 2012 to 2013 by 1.09 percent, the highest rates for any metro area in Louisiana.

The New Orleans-Metairie metro area covers Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John and St. Tammany parishes.

The Lafayette metro area covers Acadia, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin and Vermilion parishes.

“The upward trend in our population growth reflects a potential increase over the last decade’s growth, which was significant,” said Gregg Gothreaux, president and CEO of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority. “We’ve recovered from our less-impactful version of the recession, and these numbers show that we are a community where people want to live, work and play.”

The latest Census figures put the Lafayette metro area’s population at 479,116 residents, up 2.65 percent since 2010.

The New Orleans metro area swelled to 1,240,977 residents. With a 4.3 percent increase over its 1,189,866 population in 2010, the New Orleans metro area has seen the biggest increase of any metro area in Louisiana, indicating continued bounce-back from Hurricane Katrina. Over the last year, St. Bernard Parish saw the biggest upswing with a 4.61 percent increase, which made it the sixth-fastest growing county in the nation between 2012 and 2013.

Louisiana’s state population also is on the incline, up from an estimated 4,602,134 residents in 2012 to 4,625,470 in 2013. The 2010 population count was 4,533,372.

Nationally, the Census found most metro areas gained population between 2012 and 2013. The fastest-growing was The Villages, Fla., which saw its population rise 5.2 percent last year.