Ocean and Great Lakes Economy Grows Faster Than US Total

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The U.S. ocean and Great Lakes economy is growing faster than the total U.S. economy both in terms of new jobs and in contribution to gross domestic product (GDP). According to a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, job growth in the ocean economy (including the Great Lakes region) rose by 2.5% in 2014, compared with job growth of 2% in the whole economy. And job growth since 2007, the year prior to the Great Recession, is up 8.1% in the ocean economy while just flat for the U.S. economy as a whole.

Measured by inflation-adjusted GDP, the ocean economy has grown by 15.6% since 2007 compared with a 5.8% increase in total U.S. GDP. Between 2013 and 2014, however, the ocean economy’s contribution to GDP grew by just 0.1% compared with 2.2% growth in total GDP.

In 2014, the ocean economy accounted for 2.3% of all U.S. jobs and 2% of total U.S. GDP. Tourism and recreation accounted for 72% of the ocean economy’s jobs and 30% of the economy’s contribution to GDP.

Offshore mineral extraction (primarily oil and gas) accounted for just 6% of jobs, but 43% of the ocean economy’s contribution to GDP.

The tourism and recreation sector accounted for 2.2 million jobs (72% of the ocean economy total) in 2014 with average annual pay of $36,000 per worker. The offshore mineral extraction sector employed nearly 170,500 workers (5.5% of the ocean economy total) with average annual pay of more than $146,000.

In addition to the mineral extraction and tourism sectors, NOAA reports data on four other sectors:

  • Marine transportation accounted for 14% of jobs (about 428,000) and 18% of contribution to GDP.
  • Ship and boat building accounted 5% of ocean economy jobs (about 156,600) and 5% of contribution to GDP.
  • Living resources (primarily fishing and seafood processing) accounted for 2% of both jobs (about 61,500) and contribution to GDP.
  • Marine construction accounted for 1% of jobs (about 43,000) and 2% of contribution to GDP.

Full details of the report are available from the NOAA website.