New data released this week shows that Louisiana ranks first in the nation in economic impact from America’s domestic maritime industry. The state’s 54,850 maritime jobs pump more than $11.3 billion annually into the Louisiana economy. America’s robust domestic maritime industry includes vessel operators, marine terminals, shipyards and workers engaged in the movement of cargo exclusively within the United States.

According to a study commissioned by the Transportation Institute and conducted by Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, Louisiana also ranks first in the country in maritime jobs per capita, with one in every 83 jobs connected to the state’s domestic maritime industry, nearly twice that of any other state. 

“Louisiana’s maritime jobs aren’t just important to our state’s economy – they play an incredibly vital role in our national economy,” said Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

Louisiana ranks third in the nation in shipbuilding, according to a recent study by the U.S. Maritime Administration covering commercial and military construction. Shipbuilding accounts for 29,250 jobs and more than $2.23 billion in annual economic impact for the state.

“Louisiana shipyards build every kind of seagoing vessel from giant cryogenic ships used to transport liquefied natural gas to some of the largest offshore oil and gas exploration rigs in the world,” said Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La. “Louisiana also builds merchant vessels, Coast Guard cutters, barges, tugs, supply boats, fishing vessels, pleasure craft and river patrol boats. The shipbuilding industry provides stability throughout the state, in the form of jobs, development, investment, and community support.”

Vitter and Boustany, as well as other members of Louisiana’s Congressional delegation, emphasized the foundation of their state's domestic maritime industry comes from the Jones Act, which they said is critical to the military strategy of the United States and ensures the availability of a shipyard industrial base to support national defense needs. 

"The maritime industry is a cornerstone of the American economy, and the Jones Act is essential in sustaining that vitality,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La.

Across America, the domestic maritime industry includes approximately 40,000 vessels, supports 478,440 jobs and has an annual economic impact of $92.5 billion, according to the Transportation Institute’s findings. The industry also generates approximately $29 billion in wages and $10 billion in tax revenues.

Louisiana’s navigable waterway network of over 2,800 miles is second only to that of Alaska and handles more waterborne commerce than any other state, moving more than 500 million tons of domestic and foreign cargo each year. Louisiana is also home to the largest container port in the Western Hemisphere by tonnage and the second busiest port in the nation based on vessel arrivals.

“Louisiana is critical to our nation’s domestic maritime industry because of its proximity to the lower Mississippi River, which connects 31 states through a critical 14,500-mile system of inland waterways. Tugboats play an important role in this vast port network, safely escorting and maneuvering large container, tanker and bulk cargo ships in Louisiana waters, as do towboats and barges which move millions of barrels of petroleum products every month,” said Tom Allegretti, president and CEO of the American Waterways Operators and chairman of the American Maritime Partnership.

Robert Clemons, chairman of the Offshore Marine Service Association and vice president and chief operating officer of SEACOR Marine, added that Louisiana is America's lifeline to offshore energy.  “More than 25 percent of America’s domestic energy is produced offshore, and the oil and gas industry depends on the more than 2,000 specialized vessels in the U.S. fleet to carry out seismic research, drill test wells, lay pipe, transport and install production facilities and continually supply them with personnel, commodities, fuel and equipment,” he said.