Zac Hart, Coastal Management Specialist, NOAA Coastal Services Center
Everybody knows that the oceans, Great Lakes, and their associated coastlines serve as economic engines. We play on the beaches, ship cargo on the surface of the water, catch fish from the oceans and Great Lakes, and extract oil, gas, sand, and gravel from beneath their surfaces. The economic activity stemming from these resources can serve as main sources of economic development in a community.
Historically, data and information specifically on the economic contributions of the oceans and Great Lakes have been difficult to find because they’ve been buried in much larger, national data sets. The Coastal Services Center, an office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has tackled this problem by creating the free Economics: National Ocean Watch (ENOW) data set
ENOW uses common economic indicators, such as employment and gross domestic product, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data are available for coastal counties, states, regions, and the entire coastal United States. Best of all, the data are available in a wide variety of formats:
- Coastal County Snapshots, easy-to-understand stories about each coastal county, complete with charts and graphs
- The ENOW Explorer, a tool that allows users to see economic changes from place to place and over time
- The ENOW Data Wizard, a tool that allows users to download or copy subsets of the data that interest them most
Economic development professionals and other officials can visit the ENOW website to find out more about the importance of coastal, Great Lakes, and ocean resources in their areas. The Center provides additional economic data sets, including data from the U.S. Census Bureau on self-employed people, and offers support to help properly apply ENOW data and economic methods to individual communities.