Population growth in New Orleans during the fourth year of recovery from the 2005 hurricanes was stronger than it was in the third year, with the city reaching 76.4% of its pre-storm population.

The latest New Orleans index report from the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center and the Brookings Institution’s metropolitan policy program said the population was approximately 350,000, compared to a pre-Katrina estimate in July 2005 of 455,000 residents.

An additional 8,577 residences received mail over the last 12 months, the report said, up from 5,345 added in the previous year. However, there are still almost 66,000 unoccupied residences in Orleans Parish.

The report said the number of New Orleans households receiving mail grew by 6.8% from August 2008 to June 2009.

Growth in public school enrollment slowed, indicating that many of those returning to the city are single or couples without children. School enrollment in spring 2009 reached 78% of pre-Hurricane Katrina levels.

In 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the population of New Orleans at 311,853. The city said there were actually 336,000 residents, based on utility information.

Cargo moving through the port fell 19% from 2007 to 2008, and sales tax revenue declined in April and May for the first time since 2006.

The report said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has disbursed more then $800 million for infrastructure-repair projects across the five-parish area since July 2008.

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