Coastline counties along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts 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. These counties are also vulnerable to one of nature's biggest threats: hurricanes.
As defined by the US Census Bureau: a coastal county has to be adjacent to water classified as either coastal water or territorial sea. There are 254 coastline counties, stretching across parts of 23 states and covering 561,435 square miles. Coastline counties are located in three coastline regions: the Atlantic (129 counties), Gulf of Mexico (56 counties), and Pacific (69 counties).
|1960 to 1970||19.5||11.1|
|1970 to 1980||12.1||11.2|
|1980 to 1990||14.9||7.8|
|1990 to 2000||12.4||13.5|
|2000 to 2008||6.5||8.7|
The overall population increased between 1960 and 2008 was 84.3% for coastal areas and 64.3% for non-coastal areas.
|International migration||+3.9 million|
|Domestic migration||-3.5 million|
|Natural increase||+4.5 million|
The number of housing units along the coastline increased in recent decades, from 16.1 million in 1960 to 36.3 million in 2008. During this period, the Atlantic coastline region gained the largest number of housing units (8.8 million), followed by the Pacific (6.8 million) and the Gulf of Mexico (4.5 million).
Between 1960 and 2008, the percentage increase in housing units along the coastline (126 percent) was greater than that of the United States (121 percent) or for non coastline counties (120 percent). Among the coastline regions, the total percentage increases in the Gulf of Mexico (246 percent) and the Pacific (130 percent) far outpaced the gains for the Atlantic region (98 percent).
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Decennial Census of Population and Housing: 1960 to 2000; Population Estimates Program: 2008.
1960 to 2008
2000 to 2008
|6||Palm Beach County||FL||12||454.7||11.9|
|8||St. Bernard Parish||LA||11||17.2||-43.9|
The 10 most intense hurricanes since 1960 affected nearly 51 million people living in coastline counties. If those same 10 hurricanes had struck in 2008, the coastline population affected would have been closer to 70 million. Coastline counties affected by Hurricane Katrina (2005) had an overall decrease in population (nearly 2 percent loss). The populations in coastline counties affected by Hurricanes Andrew (1992) had grown by more than 20 percent.