WASHINGTON, May 26 (UPI) -- The population of the Gulf Coast grew 150 percent between 1960 and 2008, twice the national rate, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Wednesday.
The Naples area in southern Florida led the way, with Collier County's population soaring 1,900 percent from 15,753 in 1960 to 315,258 in 2008. While population growth was slower along the Pacific coast at 110 percent and the Atlantic at 56 percent, by 2008, 87 million people or 29 percent of the U.S. population lived near the ocean.
"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 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."
Overall, population grew 179 percent in the 11 counties hit by at least 11 hurricanes between 1960 and 2008. Only one in the group, Hyde County in North Carolina, had a net loss. Louisiana's St. Bernard Parish lost housing units, although its population remained stable.