Oil Spill's Economic Impact Spans Country

Gulf Coast economic impact
Seafood prices have risen sharply due to the Gulf Coast oil spill, even in parts of the country not supplied by the Gulf. And the Gulf Coast tourism industry is taking another hit in a year when it expected a recovery.

Those who make their living along the Gulf Coast were the first to be impacted by the massive and still growing oil spill there. But, as CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller reports, the ripple effect now extends throughout the country.

Matthew Lepetich owns the rights to oyster beds in the direct path of BP's renegade crude. His oysters need a few more months to mature.

But if the oil reaches them before he can harvest, Lepetich says he will lose $4,500 a day.

"It's a domino effect and it starts right here," Lepetich said.

Special Section: Gulf Coast Oil Disaster
Oil Spill by the Numbers

Lepetich sells oysters to suppliers in seven states, from the Gulf Coast all the way up to Maryland. While his customers anxiously await his harvest, one Oyster House in Mississippi has already laid off 60 workers because many Louisiana oyster beds are off limits.

"There is a lot of anxiety among our customers and their customers," said Cliff Hal, a seafood supplier in New Orleans.

Hal has already hiked prices. In the last week, his oysters are up by $10, from $37 to $47 a gallon. Gulf Coast fish rose a dollar a pound. And shell fish like shrimp and crabs are up by $6, from $24 per hundred to $30.

Restaurants as far away as New York City are feeling it. Head Chef Sandy Ingber doesn't even buy Gulf Coast seafood. Still prices at his restaurant, Oyster Bar in Grand Central, rose 10 percent.

While seafood prices are rising, back along the Gulf Coast, tourism is falling. The mere threat of oil is causing thousands of hotel cancellations.

The loss at her hotel is $100,000-$200,000 so far, not counting convention business, said Barbara Walters of the Island House Hotel on the Alabama Gulf Coast.

In the Florida panhandle, Memorial Day occupancy rates are usually 90 percent or higher. This year, reservations are off by 50 percent, and some have occupancy as low as 15-19 percent.

After two long years of recession, many business owners thought this would be a break out year. Instead, so far, it's looking like more of a bust.

  • Michelle Miller
    Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is the co-host of "CBS This Morning: Saturday." As an award-winning correspondent based in New York, she has reported for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. She joined CBS News in 2004.