Census shows little change in parish’s population

By ZACHARY FITZGERALD zfitzgerald@daily-review.com

St. Mary Parish’s population barely changed from 2012 to 2013 but showed a more than 1,000-person decrease from 2010 to 2013, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released in March.
The parish population dipped 15 people from 53,558 to 53,543 over a one-year period from July 1, 2012, to July 1, 2013. St. Mary Parish ranks as the 20th most populated parish in Louisiana, up one spot from its 2012 ranking, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
In Louisiana, St. Bernard Parish saw the greatest increase in one year, jumping 4.6 percent in population. The state saw an increase of 0.5 percent, or 23,336 people, in one year.
Surrounding parishes saw the following population increases: St. Martin, 0.4 percent; Lafourche, 0.2 percent; Terrebonne, 0.9 percent; Iberia, 0.2 percent; Vermilion, 1 percent; and Lafayette, 1.7 percent.
“The upward trend in our population growth reflects a potential increase over the last decade’s growth, which was significant,” Lafayette Economic Development Authority President and CEO Gregg Gothreaux said in an article in The Acadiana Advocate.
Comparing the 2010 population to 2013 estimates, the parish’s population dropped 2 percent, or 1,107 people, over that three-year period. The parish population as of the 2010 census was 54,650, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
St. Mary Parish Economic Development Director Frank Fink said he could not speak to the accuracy of the estimates because the numbers are gathered differently than the census. “The census is going door-to-door and getting people to fill out information and sending it in,” Fink said.
However, the estimated numbers from non-census years do not capture the entire population, Fink said. The numbers for these estimates use births, deaths, school enrollments and where people pay their taxes or where they live, he said.
Many oil and gas companies with a presence in St. Mary Parish are based outside the state and pay their taxes elsewhere, he said. “We don’t necessarily capture the fact that those employees that are getting paid out of those different locations are living here more than six months,” Fink said.
Because some college students from the parish live outside of St. Mary Parish more than six months of the year, the numbers also do not reflect those students, Fink said.
Still, people have left the parish due to a lack of housing, but parish officials are working to bring more apartments to the area, Fink said.
“You can’t get as accurate as a real census number so they use estimates and a variety of statistics, which have tended to depress our numbers,” Fink said.

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