U.S. Port Economic Impact Rises Dramatically

file photo
file photo

Published Mar 21, 2019 5:24 PM by The Maritime Executive

In the five years since Martin Associates’ last nationwide ports economic impact study, the contributions of America’s seaports to the nation’s economy have risen dramatically. 

Between 2014 and 2018, the total number of jobs supported by cargo moving through the America’s deep-draft ports increased by more than one-third from 23.1 million jobs to 30.8 million. The total economic value that U.S. coastal ports provide in terms of revenue to businesses, personal income and economic output by exporters and importers rose 17 percent from $4.6 trillion to $5.4 trillion. This accounted for nearly 26 percent of the nation’s $20.5 trillion economy in 2018, which is the same 26 percent ratio as five years ago when the total U.S. GDP was $17.4 trillion. 

Other notable gains since 2014 in Martin Associates’ report include: 

• Federal, state and local tax revenues generated by port-sector and importer/exporter revenues rose nearly 18 percent from $321.1 billion to $378.1 billion;

• Personal wages and local consumption related to the port-sector increased by more than a quarter from $1.1 trillion to $1.4 trillion, and;

• The average annual salary of those directly employed by port-related businesses rose from $53,723 to $62,800, a 17 percent increase.

The growth in jobs and economic value of America’s ports reflects their handling an additional 165 million tons of international cargo since 2014. 

AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle noted that, particularly with the economic contributions of America’s seaports growing rapidly, there’s a significant and urgent need for more federal investment in enhancing the connections with those ports. He said, “On both the land-side and water-side, AAPA’s U.S. member ports have identified a combined $66 billion in needed investments over the next decade.”