Lafayette Parish was the fourth fastest-growing parish in Louisiana in 2014 and the fifth fastest since 2010, according to new census data.
Lafayette grew 1.9 percent between 2013 and 2014 and nearly 6.1 percent since 2010, pushing the parish’s population to 235,644 on July 1, 2014, and making it the sixth-largest in Louisiana.
Only St. Bernard, Ascension and West Baton Rouge parishes grew faster than Lafayette between 2013 and 2014.
Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel attributed the growth to a trend of people drawn to the area’s unique qualities.
“It says a lot about Acadiana and the quality of life here,” he said Thursday.
Durel said he often cites Lafayette’s growth when lobbying for state and federal dollars for the region.
“We are not a bad place for y’all to be investing,” he said.
The booming city of Youngsville, for instance, grew by 36 percent between 2010 and October 2014 to 11,043, city officials reported last year.
Statewide, East Baton Rouge Parish remained Louisiana’s most populous parish in 2014 but lagged in growth behind its suburban neighbors, as well as parishes in the greater New Orleans and Lafayette areas and even the state as a whole, new census estimates say.
Despite the bright skies in some parishes, demographer Elliott Stonecipher saw darker clouds ahead and pointed out that since the 2010 census, 38 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes have lost population.
He said the state’s overall growth since 2010 is not strong enough to recoup the congressional seat lost in 2010 and suggested declining birth rates and weaker than expected economic growth aren’t helping.
He said continued out-migration is cutting into Louisiana’s natural growth rate from births and only migration from outside the U.S. is starting to help mitigate the losses.
“Those are just not good trends,” Stonecipher said.
Louisiana, as a whole, also grew minimally between 2013 and 2014, by 0.44 percent, to nearly 4.65 million.
Only 31 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes saw any kind of growth between 2013 and 2014. Cameron Parish was the only parish in the state to see no population growth, remaining at 6,679 people.
Since 2010, Ascension Parish has grown by nearly 8.5 percent, which makes it the third-fastest in Louisiana, and, during that period was outpaced only by Orleans and St. Bernard parishes, which continue to add people after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area in 2005.
Ascension Parish Council Chairman Randy Clouatre said people continue to move to his parish for its great public schools and good, safe quality of life.
“It’s a choice parish for people who don’t even work in Ascension Parish,” he said.
West Baton Rouge grew by 2.2 percent between 2013 and 2014, adding 530 people and bringing its population to 25,085. Since 2010, the parish has grown 4.7 percent and added 1,136 people, making it the eighth-fastest in the state.
West Baton Rouge Parish President Riley “PeeWee” Berthelot said the growth figures for his parish match steady building permit figures from the past two years, as new homes are being built in the Brusly and Addis areas in the southern part of the parish, including in the large Sugar Mill subdivision.
Berthelot attributed the growth to similar factors as Clouatre did but added the people who work on the west bank also are deciding to live there to avoid Baton Rouge’s chronic traffic.
“The traffic is both good and bad for us. The traffic is adding to the growth and creating a nightmare for us as far as trying to get something,” Berthelot said.
Livingston Parish was among the 10 fastest growing in Louisiana, with a growth rate of 1.1 percent between 2013 and 2014.
But even the fastest-growing parishes in Louisiana fall well behind the fastest-growing counties in the nation, including top counties in Florida, North Dakota, Texas and Alabama, where growth rates ranged from 4 percent to 8.7 percent.
Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter @NewsieDave.