Study: Great Lakes Maritime Industry Accounts for 100,000 American Jobs


December 2011


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The maritime industry on the Great Lakes is responsible for creating and sustaining more than 100,000 American jobs, according to a study released in October. In addition to the jobs supported by maritime, shipping on the Great Lakes is also a major generator of economic activity for both the United States and Canada’s international trade, the study showed.


The study, “The Economic Impacts of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System,” was commissioned by the Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA) in conjunction with several other maritime groups. Their goal was to demonstrate to the public the vast benefits that shipping provides not only to the region, but also to the entire nations of Canada and the United States.


“The value of U.S.-flag Lakes shipping has never before been so well illustrated,” said James H.I. Weakley, president of the LCA. “These facts and figures will help us fight for our fair share of federal dredging dollars, a second Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, renewal and expansion of the U.S. Coast Guard’s icebreaking fleet, and other needs that will determine if those jobs stay and grow, or whither and go.”


In a time of economic hardship, particularly in the Great Lakes region where other industries have been hit hard by layoffs, outsourcing, and subsequent unemployment, the maritime industry is doing its part to keep the flow of goods moving and hundreds of thousands of Americans at work through direct and indirect jobs, the LCA pointed out.


According to the study, the maritime industry provides over 44,000 direct jobs to merchant seamen and others aboard vessels that sail the Great Lakes. However, Great Lakes shipping also leads to thousands of indirect jobs as well. At least 44,000 related jobs were created or sustained through the maritime industry.


The maritime industry on the Great Lakes provides a major economic impact on the nation, the study confirmed. According to the report, the amount of money generated by firms and companies that rely on maritime was upwards of $33.5 billion in 2010 alone. The maritime industry and the companies that depend on it also generated billions in tax dollars at the federal, state, and local levels, which furthers the contribution of maritime on the Great Lakes to the good of the nation as a whole.


Another of the study’s findings showed that the average wage for a maritime-related job in the Great Lakes region is roughly $47,000.


The LCA concluded that the report confirms what shipowners, maritime workers, labor officials, and members of Congress have long been professing: The U.S. maritime industry is an important component of national and economic security.


U.S.-flag “lakers,” many of them crewed by SIU members, haul raw materials – iron ore for steel production, coal for power generation, limestone and cement for the construction industry, as well as salt, sand, grain, and other dry- and liquid bulk cargos. In total, there are about 65 large U.S.-flag self-propelled vessels and tug/barge units. In a boom economy, the U.S.-flag Lakes fleet can haul upwards of 115 million tons of cargo over the course of the shipping season.



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