Economic damage to Gulf from oil spill tracked

Pascagoula wasn't hurt as much by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as the Gulfport area, and neither economy took as big a hit as had been feared, economists say.

Just how much economic damage South Mississippi businesses sustained isn't yet known. For most of the country the oil spill is already forgotten, said David Butler, director of the University of Southern Mississippi's International Development doctoral program.

"I think it's out of the American conscience — absolutely," he said. Butler and his associate, Edward Sayre, will track the economics of the Gulf oil spill for at least the next two years.

Moody’s Analytics, which continues to see challenges for the seafood and tourism industries in the Gulfport area in the short term, is predicting a turnaround in 2012.

"The worst of the oil spill's environmental damage has been contained, setting the stage for a sharp recovery next year," said Nathan Topper, an associate economist with Moody’s.

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