Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 8-15-2006


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?

The ocean economy is defined as industries in marine construction, living resources (seafood processing and marketing, plus aquaculture), shipbuilding and boatbuilding, minerals (primarily oil and gas exploration and production), marine transportation and related goods and services, and, finally, tourism and recreation industries whose establishments are located close to the shore of the ocean or the Great Lakes.

In 2004, the ocean economy of the region encompassing Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, stretching from Franklin County, Florida, to Brazoria County, Texas, employed 291,830 people in wage and salary jobs paying nearly $7.7 billion in wages. (See table 1.) The affected States accounted for 13 percent of employment and wages in the U.S. ocean economy.


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