Louisiana regional economic impacts of land loss

Study underscores economic importance of coastal restoration

Report published: March 2017

Louisiana is facing a land loss crisis – more than 2,000 square miles of land have been lost over the last 100 years, and an equal amount could potentially be lost over the next 50 years. This loss puts businesses, homes, infrastructure and whole communities at risk.

If nothing is done to address this problem, significant economic damage will occur at the national, state, and regional levels through flooding and destruction of buildings, roads, and railways. It will also have adverse effects on jobs and disrupt the flow of commerce connected to Louisiana's coast, according to a study, "Regional Impacts of Coastal Land Loss and Louisiana's Opportunity for Growth," [PDF] by the Louisiana State University (LSU) Economics and Policy Research Group.

What's at risk

  • $3.6 billionInfrastructure replacement costs due to land loss alone
  • $7.6 billionBusiness disruption costs due to land loss alone

The risk of continued land loss is concentrated in coastal Louisiana, but the economic implications will spread throughout the nation due to the state's importance in shipping, energy production, chemicals, and other sectors.

  • As much as $3.6 billion in Louisiana business, residential, and infrastructure assets are at risk due to land loss over the next 50 years if no action is taken to protect or restore Louisiana's coast.
  • These assets support an additional $7.6 billion in economic activity throughout the nation each year.
  • In addition to the direct impact of land loss, Louisiana would also face increased storm damage further inland as the coastal buffer disappears. Up to $138 billion in business, residential, and infrastructure assets could be lost, along with an additional $53 billion in disrupted economic activity from just one storm.

Opportunities for growth

But there is hope that the state can avoid the worst-case scenario. Louisiana has developed a comprehensive 50-year Coastal Master Plan to restore and protect its coast, which will be bolstered by new revenue streams that can help speed the plan's implementation. These projects will not only reduce the risk of economic damages but will also provide benefits in the form of jobs and economic growth in Louisiana's coastal areas and beyond -- and have the support of local business leaders [PDF].

These dedicated investments will support the sizeable and growing restoration and protection economy consisting of:

  • 7,800 to 10,500 jobs each year
  • $460 to $620 million in wages each year
  • $590 to $785 million value added to the state's economy each year
  • $1.1 to $1.5 billion in annual output