Oil spill could cost Florida 195,000 jobs, $10.9 billion

By Blake Ellis, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could end up costing Florida 195,000 jobs and $10.9 billion in spending, research from the University of Central Florida shows.

That's what could happen as a result of the oil spill, assuming that Florida's 23 Gulf Coast counties lose half of their tourism and leisure jobs and spending according to Sean Snaith, the director of UCF's Institute for Economic Competitiveness.

Even if the affected counties lose 10% of their tourism and leisure jobs, as well as spending, Florida would still lose 39,000 jobs and $2.2 billion in spending.

"This is just not what we need in a state with 12% unemployment and where the tourism industry was already on shaky legs to begin with," said Snaith. "We were already predicting it would take a year and a half to two years for the sector just to recover from the recession, and now it has to recover from a recession and an oil spill."

Before BP's oil well began spewing thousands of gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico, the leisure and tourism industries in Florida's Gulf counties produced 269,000 jobs and $12.4 billion in spending per year, Snaith said.

But as stores, restaurants and other businesses on the Gulf Coast are forced to close, companies across the entire state are getting hit.

"Less business [on the Gulf Coast] means less business for a wholesaler who provides produce to a restaurant, and less business for the wholesaler in turn means less business for the mechanic of refrigerated trucks that the wholesaler uses to deliver the produce," said Snaith.

"There's a chain of events in the economy that results in a ripple effect, after the initial damage is done to the leisure and hospitality industries," he said.

While his research provides a range of possible outcomes, Snaith said the actual impact of the oil spill on Florida's economy remains to be seen.

"This certainly doesn't define the entire set of possibilities," he said. "It's just a way to put a number on an impact that we know is pending, but has been difficult to quantify." To top of page

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