Gulf Coast population surges, but will it last?

The BP oil spill could make this a short-lived trend

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A new census report finds a sharp jump in the population of U.S. coastal counties along the Gulf of Mexico. But demographers warn the trend may not last long, partly because of the threat of major disasters such as hurricanes and the current oil spill.

The report says the Gulf coast population grew by 150 percent since 1960, to about 14 million. That growth surpassed all other regions, and is double the rate of increase for the nation as a whole, as more people sought affordable living in the South and Southeast.

Still, some analysts predict a population shift away from Gulf regions to inland locations. They cited rising housing costs for coastal areas, and a greater awareness of the risks after Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf oil spill.

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