Findings indicate that in 2006, US deep draft ports and their seaport-related businesses produced 8.4 million jobs and added $2 trillion to the American economy. Businesses providing goods and services to US ports both directly and indirectly paid $314.5 billion in wages and salaries. Of that total, $207.4 billion came directly from businesses involved in the handling of international waterborne commerce. The study examines both coastal and Great Lakes ports.
"The tremendous growth in overseas trade volumes moving through our ports in the past decade has been a huge boon to the American economy," says Kurt Nagel, president and CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) "The jobs these imports and exports create are spread throughout the country, not just in port cities, making them a vital part of our nation's economic fabric."
The AAPA notes that US ports and waterways handle more than 2 billion tons of domestic and import/export cargo annually. By 2020, the total volume of cargo shipped by water is expected to be double that of 2001 volumes.
Much of total domestic production of basic commodities and finished products is shipped by water, including apples, wastepaper, corn, lumber, iron ore, steel, scrap steel, potatoes, phosphate, plastics, film, machinery, and modular homes.
About two-thirds of all US wheat and wheat flour, one-third of soybean and rice production and almost two-fifths of US cotton production is exported via US ports. US-produced coal, grain and forest products also compete well in international markets because of the transportation system, according to AAPA.