Following last month’s news of 304,000 U.S. jobs created in January, the Transportation Institute, a maritime association which advocates and works for sound national maritime policy in the U.S., announced a 30% increase in domestic maritime job creation enabled by the Jones Act. Thanks to the law, the industry now employs nearly 650,0000 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 U.S.-built, -owned, and -crewed vessels. Supported by broad bipartisan majorities in Congress and top U.S. national security officials, the Jones Act promotes the maintenance of the nation’s vitally important maritime industrial base, ensuring that U.S. 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 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, and sustains nearly 650,000 U.S. 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,” James L. Henry, chairman and president of the Transportation Institute, said in a prepared statement. “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, the group said.

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, the Institute says.


Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.