So whom to believe? According to this story in August, some "experts" estimated the population (at the time) to be between 210,000 and 235,000. On the other hand, some estimates had the population at 171,000 (apparently determined by the USPS) with an expected increase of 20,000 (by the same group that estimated the population to be 235,000) for the following six months. That would put the population in-line with the latest survey.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Fewer than 190,000 people live in New Orleans, a fraction of the 454,000 people estimated to reside in the city before Hurricane Katrina hit last year, according to a survey released Thursday.
A spokeswoman for the Louisiana Recovery Authority, Natalie Wyeth, called the results of the door-to-door survey of households "the definitive, most precise set of numbers we've seen." But a local demographer, who has studied the city's population, dismissed figures as a "fairly significant underestimation."
"This is important, because funding decisions are based on population," demographer Greg Rigamer said....
According to the survey, an estimated 187,525 people lived in Orleans Parish, as of August. The figure did not include those living in college dormitories and jails and did not include people who work in New Orleans but live outside the city, said Dave Bowman, the project's lead from LRA.
The Orleans Parish population count had a margin of error of plus or minus 11.5 percent, the survey showed. Survey results, with even greater margins of error, also were released for hurricane-hit Jefferson, Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes.
In those parishes, populations were estimated at 435,786 in Jefferson, with a margin of error of plus or minus 12.7 percent; 20,024 in Plaquemines with a margin of error of plus or minus 36.3 percent; and 25,016 in St. Bernard with a margin of error of 17 percent.
Pre-storm populations from July 2005 were estimated at 452,824 in Jefferson; 28,995 in Plaquemines and 65,364 in St. Bernard, according to the survey.
I suppose we can better estimate New Orleans population by asking the audience of "Family Feud".