Aug 13 (Reuters) - Hurricane Katrina, the third-strongest
hurricane ever to hit the United States, made a direct hit on
the city of New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005.
It caused levees and flood walls to fail in more than 50
places, flooding about 85 percent of the city and causing more
than 1,500 deaths.
Following are some statistics for the city before and after
POPULATION: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in July
2005 the population of New Orleans was 453,726. In July 2007
the population was 239,124. City officials now estimate the
population has risen to around 300,000.
TOURISM: Tourism is the mainstay of the local economy. In
2004, the last full year before Katrina, the city had 10.1
million visitors, according to data from the University of New
Orleans Hospitality Research Center. In 2006 that fell to 3.7
million and in 2007 7.1 million people visited the city.
SCHOOLS: Reopening schools is seen as crucial if the city
wants to persuade former residents to return. According to the
Louisiana Department of Education, in February 2008 there were
32,887 children enrolled in schools in New Orleans, down from
66,372 in the 2004-2005 school year.
SALES TAXES: City revenue from sales taxes dropped from
$11.5 million in August 2005 to $1.1 million a month later. In
February 2008 — Mardi Gras is held in February — sales taxes
reached $11.6 million, up 10 percent from the previous year.
UNEMPLOYMENT: The labor market in New Orleans is very tight
because so many people have not returned to the city, leaving
many employers struggling to fill jobs. The unemployment rate
in the first quarter of 2008 was 3.1 percent — compared with a
national rate of 4.8 percent. Before Katrina, local
unemployment was running above 4 percent, according to the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics.
(Compiled by Nick Carey in New Orleans)