New Orleans is now at 65% of its pre-hurricane population and looks poised to pass the 300,000 mark at any day now. Although many neighborhoods are still in need of rebuilding and dotted with vacant lots, the growth represents a "significant indication of New Orleans' sustained viability as a major city," urban planners conclude. The new numbers bring the Big Easy to the size of a Pittsburgh or a Tampa.
The city's population isn't expected to reach its former high of 455,000 but to level off at 325,000 to 350,000 in the next few years. "When you look at the housing stock on the market, it's not a matter of housing, but whether we can support those who are back, both economically and from a service standpoint," said the author of the study.