U.S. Maritime Workforce Grows to 650,000

U.S. Maritime Workforce Grows to 650,000

U.S. Maritime Workforce Grows to 650,000 Americans in Booming Jobs Economy

Jones Act industry contributes over $150 billion annually to nation’s economy

WASHINGTON – Following last month’s news of 304,000 U.S. jobs created in January, Transportation Institute (TI), a leading maritime association which advocates and works for sound national maritime policy in the United States, today announced a 30% increase in domestic maritime job creation enabled by the Jones Act. Thanks to the law, the industry now employs nearly 650,000 Americans across all 50 states and contributes $154 billion to the nation’s economic growth annually.

The Jones Act, an anchor for U.S. economic and national security interests, guarantees that the transportation of merchandise between two U.S. points is carried out by American– built, owned, and crewed vessels. Supported by broad bipartisan majorities in Congress and top U.S. national security officials, the law promotes the maintenance of the nation’s vitally important maritime industrial base, ensuring that American jobs are not shipped overseas and that defense capabilities and readiness not outsourced to foreign nations.

Mirroring unprecedented U.S. job growth and enduring low unemployment rates seen in recent months, a newly released study published by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for the Transportation Institute affirms the impressive economic benefits of the domestic maritime industry. Specifically, the report finds that the Jones Act-enabled maritime industry:

  • Contributes more than $154 billion in total economic output annually
  • Creates $41 billion in labor income for American workers each year
  • Adds $72 billion annually to the value of U.S. economic output
  • Sustains nearly 650,000 American jobs, with one shipyard job creating four jobs elsewhere in the economy

“From shipyards to the high seas, the maritime industry is indisputably contributing to the American economy in a major way,” said James L. Henry, Chairman and President of the Transportation Institute. “This new study shows the spectacular impact that our industry has on our nation’s overall well-being, especially by providing livelihoods to 650,000 hard-working Americans, thousands of whom proudly served in our military. We simply would not be as strong as we are without the veteran community, and it’s a source of great pride that our growth is benefitting them and their families. Needless to say, the report underscores just how indispensable the Jones Act continues to be for the security and prosperity of our entire country.”

The 40,000 vessels that comprise the Jones Act fleet move nearly one billion tons of cargo annually or roughly a quarter of the nation’s freight along U.S. internal waterways, across the Great Lakes, and over the oceans to Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. territories. Shipped goods include a variety of products, from raw materials and commodities like coal and crude oil to consumer products that fill the shelves of grocery stores nationwide.

Encompassing jobs in all 50 states, and the District of Columbia, the Jones Act workforce represents a variety of career paths, including employees who are military veterans and earn family-waged salaries. Collectively, this industrial base accounts for $41 billion in American labor income annually.

In a growing economy where job creation continues to flourish at historic levels the Jones Act remains the quintessential ‘Buy American, Hire American’ law, one that puts American workers first and is critically important for guaranteeing our national security and maintaining our defense industrial base.

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About Transportation Institute

Transportation Institute (TI) was established in 1967 as a Washington-based, non-profit organization dedicated to maritime research education and promotion. The Institute participates in all phases of the nation’s deep-sea, foreign and domestic shipping trades, and barge and tugboat operations on the Great Lakes and on the vast network of America’s inland waterways. Many member company vessels are contracted to the U.S. military services. All are of U.S. registry — crewed by American citizens operating under the world’s highest safety standards, and proudly flying the American flag. With offices on the East and West coasts, Transportation Institute supports a wide range of programs that promote the strength of America’s capability.

Media Contact: Anna Stallmann – 202-660-2567, Anna @ nahigianstrateiges.com



Five Things to Know about the Jones Act

Five Things to Know about the Jones Act

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, commonly known as the Jones Act, is the fundamental law of the U.S. maritime industry. On the 97th anniversary of the enactment of the Jones Act, here are five things you should know about this key piece of legislation.


(1) The Jones Act is a cabotage law.

Cabotage is the trade between two ports within the same country. The Jones Act applies certain restrictions to vessels that can participate in cabotage, or coastwise trade. The principles of the Jones Act date back to the early formation of the United States, with the Tariff Act of 1789, which required all coastwise trade to be conducted on American vessels.








(2) To be a Jones Act vessel, there are specific requirements.

To qualify to participate in the Jones Act trade, a vessel must be built in the United States, flagged (or registered in the United States), be owned by a company with 75% U.S. ownership, and crewed by 75% American sailors. These requirements under the Jones Act create a stable investment climate for the maritime industry. The intent of the Jones Act was to create a reliable domestic shipping industry to support commerce, serve as a military auxiliary during times of war or national emergency, and support the shipbuilding industry.


(3) The Jones Act is a creator of American jobs.

The Jones Act supports 478,440 American jobs1. These jobs range from the captains on the ships, to the longshoremen at the ports, as well as the truck drivers who deliver the goods to the stores and individuals who use them. This number includes 82,040 jobs in the shipbuilding industry that are directly supported by the construction of Jones Act ships.


(4) The Jones Act is an economic driver.

The Jones Act produces $100 billion in economic output for the U.S. annually. American jobs in the U.S. maritime industry are routinely high paying; maritime academies consistently have the highest return on investment and highest earning graduates with an average yearly salary of $80,000 per year.


(5) Jones Act ships serve in times of national and international need.

American ships and American mariners have a strong and lengthy history of serving the U.S. and the world during times of need. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, American vessels in the vicinity of Manhattan participated in the largest boatlift in history, transporting half a million people off the island in only 9 hours. During Operation Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom, a Jones Act vessel operated by Tote served on charter to the Military Sealift Command from 2000-2003, conducting 25 trips to the Gulf to assist with the transport of supplies for rebuilding in Iraq and the return of war materials to the United States. After the Haiti earthquake, Crowley ships served in the earthquake relief and assured cargo delivery to the collapsed ports.


The Jones Act is a significant contributor to the national economy, homeland security, and national security. Because of these reasons, it has strong bipartisan support at all levels of government. To learn more about the Jones Act, visit: https://transportationinstitute.org/jones-act/








1These data are from a PwC study, Contributions of the Jones Act Shipping Industry to the US Economy in 2011, commissioned by the Transportation Institute in 2014.