From the earliest days of our nation, shipping has been the key to America’s economic strength and security. Today, the maritime industry is by and large the most economically sound form of domestic transportation, moving almost 1 billion tons of cargo annually at a fraction of the cost of other modes. Critical U.S. industries depend on the efficiencies and economies of domestic maritime transportation to move raw materials and other critical commodities.
America’s domestic maritime industry is responsible for almost 500,000 jobs and nearly $100 billion in annual economic output, according to a recent study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Transportation Institute. Labor compensation associated with the domestic fleet exceeds $29 billion annually, with those wages spent in virtually every corner of the United States. The American domestic fleet, with more than 40,000 vessels, is truly the envy of the world. For every direct job in in American maritime, the industry is responsible for nearly five indirect jobs elsewhere in the U.S. economy.
The size and scope of the domestic maritime industry is staggering, yet often overlooked, American maritime:
- Moves almost 1 billion-plus tons of cargo annually, with a market value of $400 billion;
- Transports more than 100 million passengers annually ride ferries and excursion boats;
- 74,000 jobs on vessels and at shipyards;
- Sustains nearly 500,000 jobs in total;
- Produces nearly $100 billion in annual economic output;
- $29 billion in annual wages spent in virtually every community in the United States;
- $11 billion in taxes per annum; and
- $46 billion added to the value of U.S. economic output each year.
Major cargos in the domestic trades include:
- Grain, coal, and other dry-bulk cargos and crude and petroleum via inland rivers;
- Iron ore, limestone, and coal across the Great Lakes;
- Refined petroleum products along the East and Gulf coasts;
- Supplies for offshore operations in the Gulf of Mexico; and
- Merchandise and construction materials to and from Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Guam.
America’s domestic trades have been the birthplace of innovations that transformed waterborne commerce worldwide:
- Self-unloading vessels;
- Articulated tug-barges;
- Trailer barges;
- Chemical parcel tankers;
- Railroad-on-barge carfloats; and
- River flotilla towing systems.
Members of the domestic maritime industry are also at the forefront of developing the infrastructure necessary to move liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a cargo and to utilize LNG as a source of propulsion.