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Louisiana lost about 10,840 residents between July 1, 2017, and July 1, 2018, according to estimates released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Louisiana was one of nine states the bureau estimates lost population during that period. Mississippi, which lost about 3,133 people, is the only other southern state the bureau estimates experienced a population decline.

Louisiana’s estimated population loss was the fourth-largest in the nation, trailing New York (48,510), Illinois (45,116) and West Virginia (11,216).

“Many states have seen fewer births and more deaths in recent years,” said Sandra Johnson, a demographer and statistician with the Census Bureau. “If those states are not gaining from either domestic or international migration, they will experience either low population growth or outright decline.”

Louisiana experienced a “natural increase,” representing the number of deaths subtracted from the number of births, of about 14,085, the bureau says. But 27,914 people moved to other states, and only 3,012 people immigrated to Louisiana from other nations.

Gov. John Bel Edwards was asked about the bureau’s report during his call-in radio show Wednesday. Edwards said he had not reviewed the report but said he would expect the state’s improving economy to be conducive to population growth.

“We’re setting the conditions for opportunity and for prosperity here in Louisiana,” Edwards said. “Typically, you would see with that there’s an in-migration of folks into Louisiana.”

Often, census estimates are revised after the initial release, he added.

Barry Erwin, president and CEO of the Council for a Better Louisiana, said “it’s really not a good sign at all if your state is losing population.”

Outmigration has been a problem for Louisiana for decades as nearby states like Texas, North Carolina and Florida grew, Erwin notes. There were a few years of in-migration during the 2010s, but that was largely driven by people who had been displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 moving back home, he added.

Erwin said some aspects of the economy, such as those tied to heavy industry, are doing well. But he said the state does not have a diverse economy that can attract large numbers of new people, particularly younger people, to move here for jobs.

This is the second consecutive year the Census Bureau's December update estimated a population loss in Louisiana. Prior to the past two years, Louisiana’s population had been growing slowly, Public Affairs Research Council President Robert Travis Scott said.

Overall population in the United States was about 327.2 million on July 1, the bureau says, an increase of 0.6 percent from the same point last year.

The fastest-growing states by percentage were Nevada and Idaho, which both grew by about 2.1 percent. The states that added the most people were Texas, Florida and California, in that order.

The South added about 1.2 million people, including more than 418,000 international immigrants, the bureau says.

Staff Reporter

David Jacobs is a Baton Rouge-based award-winning journalist who has written about government, politics, business and culture in Louisiana for almost 15 years. He joined The Center Square in 2018.