As of the census[54] of 2000, there were 484,674 people, 188,251 households, and 112,950 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,684.3 inhabitants per square mile (1,036.4 /km²). There were 215,091 housing units at an average density of 1,191.3 inhabitants per square mile (460.0 /km²). The racial makeup of the city was 67.25% African American, 28.05% White, 0.20% Native American, 2.26% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.93% from other races, and 1.28% from two or more races. 3.06% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

See also: Greater New Orleans

The last population estimate before Hurricane Katrina was 454,865 as of July 1, 2005.[55] A population analysis released in August 2007 estimated the population to be 273,000, 60% of the pre-Katrina population and an increase of about 50,000 since July 2006.[56] A September 2007 report by The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, which tracks population based on U.S. Postal Service figures, found that in August 2007, just over 137,000 households received mail. That compares with about 198,000 households in July 2005, representing about 70% of pre-Katrina population.[57]

A 2006 study by researchers at Tulane University and the University of California, Berkeley determined that there are as many as 10,000 to 14,000 illegal immigrants, many from Mexico, currently residing in New Orleans.[58] Janet Murguia, president and chief executive officer of the National Council of La Raza, stated that there could be up to 120,000 Hispanic workers in New Orleans. In June 2007, one study stated that the Hispanic population had risen from 15,000 pre-Katrina to over 50,000.[59]

A recent article released by The Times-Picayune indicated that the city had undergone a recent influx of 5,300 households in the later half of 2008, brining the population to around 469,605 households, or 88.1% of its pre-Katrina levels. While the area's population has been on an upward trajectory since the storm, much of that growth was attributed to residents returning after Katrina. Many observers predicted that growth would taper off, but the data center's analysis suggests New Orleans and the surrounding parishes are benefiting from an economic migration resulting from the global financial crisis of 2008.[60][61]