N.O. tops Forbes list of fast-growing cities

New Orleans topped a Forbes magazine list of the cities that have seen the biggest population growth since the national recession, although officials with the business magazine say the ranking is partially due to the population rebound after Hurricane Katrina.

The population of the Crescent City increased by 28.2 percent since 2007, to reach 369,250, Forbes said in an article posted on its website Tuesday. That’s well ahead of the 17.7 percent population growth that happened in the second fastest-growing city, Chula Vista, Calif.

Along with the return of residents displaced by Katrina, New Orleans also was boosted by the city becoming a hub for technology jobs. Last month, Forbes said New Orleans was ranked behind only San Jose, Calif., and San Francisco for new tech jobs. Metro New Orleans had a 28 percent increase in information employment from 2009 to 2012, thanks to growth in the city’s tech sector, which includes video game and software jobs, along with the thriving local movie and TV production industry.

Despite the increasing activity in the past few years, Forbes notes that New Orleans is still well below its 2002 population of 472,600, much less its all-time high in 1960, when the population was 628,000.

Forbes based the list on an analysis of population shifts since 2007 in the 111 U.S. metro areas with populations of more than 200,000.

The magazine said that New Orleans was one of six cities where the urban core grew faster than the surrounding suburbs since 2007. The other cities were: New York; San Jose; Providence, R.I.; Columbus, Ohio; and San Antonio.

But Katrina was a factor in this development because people who lived in the New Orleans suburbs generally returned sooner than the residents in the city limits who were displaced by the hurricane.