Sobering New Study Spotlights Estimated Losses from Rising Earthquake Risk

U.S. map showing annualized earthquake loss ratios (2023)

In April, FEMA and the U.S. Geological Survey published an updated version of Hazus Estimated Annualized Earthquake Losses for the United States. This report reveals that earthquake risk—the exposure of people, the built environment, and the economy to earthquake hazards—is significantly higher than in the past, and it continues to rise.

The report provides criteria and methodology for comparing seismic risk across regions. By looking at what is located in earthquake hazard areas and assessing the potential damage from earthquakes, the new study is able to estimate annualized losses, both nationwide and state-by-state. The results ought to draw serious attention to the need for greater investment in seismic mitigation and strong building codes to ensure that every community’s building stock and infrastructure remain safe and functional when earthquakes strike. The cost of doing too little is very high indeed.

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