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Economics and Demographics

40% live on the coast

Coastal counties of the U.S. are home to over 124 million people, or 40 percent of the nation’s total population, yet the coast accounts for less than 10 percent of the nation’s land mass (excluding Alaska).

34.8 million population increase
Demographics Thumbnail

From 1970 to 2010, the population in coastal counties increased by 34.8 million people, or 39 percent.

54 million jobs

Annually, coastal counties produce more than $7.6 trillion in goods and services, employ 53.6 million people, and pay $3 trillion in wages.

3rd in world GDP

If the nation’s coastal counties were an individual country, it would rank third in the world in gross domestic product, surpassed only by the United States and China.

Top 5 coastal populations

California tops the coastal populations chart with 26 million people living in coastal counties, followed by New York with 16 million, Florida with 14 million, New Jersey with 7 million, and Texas with 6 million.

446 people per square mile

Approximately 446 people per square mile live in coastal counties (excluding Alaska), compared to the nation’s population density of roughly 87 people per square mile.

Vulnerable populations

Approximately 39 percent of Americans living in coastal counties fall into an elevated coastal hazard risk category. These include children, the elderly, households where English isn’t the primary language, and those in poverty.

Demographics graphic stating 40% of the population live on 10% of the land mass
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The basic geographic footprint for the data represented on this page is a suite of “Coastal Shoreline Counties” determined by using the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s definition, which states that a coastal county must

  1. Have a coastline bordering the open ocean or the Great Lakes or
  2. Contain coastal high hazard areas (V-zones).