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Contact: Robert Bernstein
Public Information Office
Between 1960 and 2008, the population in coastline counties along the Gulf of Mexico soared by 150 percent, more than double the rate of increase of the nation's population as a whole. On the eve of hurricane season, this area now is home to nearly 14 million residents, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report issued today.
The report, Coastline Population Trends in the United States: 1960 to 2008, [PDF] examines population trends along the country's saltwater edges — coastline counties — and their shares of coastline states during the period. Specifically, it analyzes trends in the growth and decline, geographic distribution and density of the coastline population. It also incorporates historical data on the trajectories of hurricanes striking the U.S. coastlines to gauge the coastline population's experience with hurricanes.
The Gulf Coast's population growth over the period surpassed that of coastline counties along the Pacific (110 percent) and Atlantic (56 percent). The region has experienced double-digit rates of population increase each decade since 1960. The Gulf Coast was home to six of the eight U.S. coastline counties with the fastest population increases over the 48-year period, led by Collier County, Fla., which grew by 1,900 percent (from 15,753 to 315,258). At the same time, the region contained six of the 11 coastline counties most frequently hit by hurricanes during that time, with Monroe County, Fla., leading the list with 15, and Lafourche Parish, La., tied for second with 14.
“Coastline counties along the Atlantic and Gulf, as well as the Hawaiian Islands, account for nearly two-thirds of the nation's coastline population and are home to four of the nation's 10 most populous counties,” said Steven Wilson of the Census Bureau's Population Division, who co-authored the report. “As hurricane season begins, this report should put into perspective the number of Americans living along the coast who might be affected.”
All in all, 87 million people, or 29 percent of the U.S. population, live in coastline counties, including more than 41 million in Atlantic and 32 million in Pacific counties. In 1960, only 47 million lived in coastline counties.
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