NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The metropolitan New Orleans area's population has reached 87.5 percent of its pre-Hurricane Katrina tally after adding 8,000 new residents over the past year, according to a survey released Friday
The report, compiled by the University of New Orleans' Division of Business and Economic Research, says the total population of New Orleans and several other parishes in the metro region is roughly 1.2 million.
The population of Orleans Parish hasn't rebounded from the 2005 storm at the same rate as neighboring parishes, however. The population of New Orleans is 72.5 percent of what it was before flood waters from smashed levees inundated most of the city, according to the survey.
The report also found the region's unemployment rate fell from 7.5 percent to 7.2 percent over the past year, while the area gained more than 7,800 local jobs.
"Substantial job losses in some industries, such as construction and manufacturing of transportation equipment, were offset by employment gains in other industries, such as information and educational services," says the report, which concludes the New Orleans economy had an "encouraging year."
The region's tourism trade had a particularly strong year. The survey says New Orleans had 8.75 million visitors in 2011, up 5.5 percent over 2010. Visitor spending increased from $5.5 billion in 2010 to $5.7 billion last year, a 3.6 percent increase.