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August 2006, Vol. 129, No.8
Hurricane damage to the ocean economy in the U.S. gulf region in 2005
Charles S. Colgan and Jefferey Adkins
In 2005, insured losses from hurricanes and other catastrophes were greater than in any other year in U.S. history. NOAA’s National Hurricane Center estimates that $85 billion of total damages resulted from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita alone. One year later, the region affected by these two hurricanes still struggles to recover, both as a place to live and as a viable economy.
Using data from the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, the National Ocean Economics Program has developed a data series that allows the economic damage to coastal regions to be seen in a new light: what happens to the economic value derived from the ocean when the ocean turns from resource and respite to a massive engine of destruction?1
According to Federal disaster declarations, Hurricane Katrina affected the entire States of Mississippi and Louisiana, plus 22 counties in Alabama and 9 in Florida. Rita affected all of Louisiana, plus 26 counties in Texas. The greatest effects were in the counties (parishes in Louisiana) closest to the coast, where the storm’s effects were at their maximum intensity. Coastal counties and parishes include those designated as such by each State under the Federal Coastal Zone Management Program, as well as those designated as coastal watershed counties or parishes by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Virtually all of the coastal zone and watershed counties2 or parishes of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, plus the coastal counties in Texas from Houston eastward, were affected by the two hurricanes. The coastal zone counties or parishes of the four States account for nearly a quarter of employment and wages in those States. In Louisiana, the coastal parishes are more than half of the State’s economy. The combined coastal zone and watershed counties and parishes on the Gulf of Mexico constituted 14 percent of employment in Alabama, 4 percent in Mississippi, 6 percent in Florida, a considerably greater 33 percent in Texas, and fully 80 percent in Louisiana.
This excerpt is from an article published in the August 2006 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 For information on the definitions of the ocean economy, visit www.oceaneconomics.org, the Web site of the National Ocean Economics Program.
2 Coastal zone counties are those within a State’s defined coastal zone management program. Watershed counties are defined by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Related BLS programs
Current Employment Statistics
Current Employment Statistics (State & Area)
Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages
The labor market impact of Hurricane Katrina: an overview—Aug.
Worker mobility before and after Hurricane Katrina—Aug. 2006
Hurricane Katrina’s effects on industry employment and wages—Aug. 2006
The Current Population Survey response to Hurricane Katrina—Aug. 2006
The effect of Hurricane Katrina on employment and unemployment—Aug. 2006
Conducting the Mass Layoff Statistics program: response and findings—Aug. 2006
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