Coastwide
U.S. Census Bureau

US Census Bureau: 94.7M Americans Live in Coastline Regions

About 60.2M Live in Areas Most Vulnerable to Hurricanes

The 2019 hurricane season has begun and, once again, the number of people living in some of the most vulnerable coastline regions is growing.

About 94.7 million people, or about 29.1% of the total U.S. population, lived in coastline counties in 2017, a 15.3% growth since 2000.

The first hurricane of the season, Barry, made landfall Saturday in Louisiana as a Category 1 and was later downgraded to a tropical storm, causing widespread flooding and power outages along the Gulf Coast.

Coastline counties — those adjacent to coastal water or territorial sea — are grouped into the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Pacific regions.

About 60.2 million people lived in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions — those most vulnerable to hurricanes. These areas added 8.3 million people between 2000 and 2017, a 16% increase.

A closer look at areas in the path of hurricanes:

  • The Gulf of Mexico was the fastest growing of the coastline regions. It added more than 3 million people between 2000 and 2017, a 26.1% increase. The nation as a whole grew by 15.7% over the same period.
  • The Gulf of Mexico’s high rate of population growth was reflected in the percentage of its workforce employed in construction industries: 8.5%, compared to 6.4% nationally. Employment in natural resources, construction and maintenance occupations was also higher than the national rate: 10.8% compared to 8.9%.
  • Coastline counties continued to be more ethnically diverse than other counties. While non-Hispanic whites made up 60.7% of the U.S. population in 2017, they accounted for less than half of the population (47.9%) in coastline counties.
  • There were 13 hurricanes that caused more than $10 billion in damage each in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions between 2000 and 2017. Seven occurred in just two years (2004 and 2005). While the population in these areas remained at about 54.5 million between 2005 and 2006, their aggregate population has continued to