By Allen Johnson
Mayor Ray Nagin says New Orleans population has increased yet again. In an open letter to the national State of the Black Union last month, Nagin wrote that the greatest measure of our success is the people who live here. More than two years after Hurricane Katrina, Nagin claims that approximately 323,000 people now live in the city, or 71 percent of the citys pre-storm population. That is incredible, considering the predictions that we would never return. Who said that? The mayors letter does not elaborate. His population estimate the rosiest of any has increased by almost 5,000 people in less than two months. Demographer Mark J. Van Landingham, a Thomas C. Keller Professor of Diversity at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, recently estimated the citys maximum overnight population at 273,000. The professor says a team of experts is needed to resolve the disparities in estimates. Last week demographer Greg Rigamer estimated that the city just passed the 300,000 mark at the end of January. Van Landingham says reliable figures are necessary for accurately assessing murder trends and other phenomena in post-Katrina New Orleans.