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NEW ORLEANS — Data reported by the Census Bureau on Thursday shows that the city of New Orleans is 29 percent smaller than it was a decade ago.

The Census Bureau reported on Thursday that 343,829 people were living in the city of New Orleans on April 1, 2010, four years and seven months after it was virtually emptied by the floodwaters that followed the hurricane.

The numbers portray a significantly smaller city than in the previous census, in 2000, though it should be said that New Orleans had been steadily shrinking even then. In 1990, it was the 24th-biggest city in the country, in 2000, the 31st, and now it has surely dropped from the top 50.

The latest figure is lower than estimates cited widely by many here in recent months. It is lower, by roughly 10,000, than the official census estimate in the summer of 2009.

“It’s not an unqualified good thing to have big numbers,” said Mark VanLandingham, a professor at Tulane University who has expressed frustration with frequent calls from local officials, sometimes successful, for the Census Bureau to raise the city’s population estimate. “It made it very difficult to figure out what was actually going on.”

Read more at NYtimes.com

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