Proceedings Summer 2016
About the authors:
Cassandra Ingram is an economist in the Office of the Chief Economist,
Department of Commerce. Her research topics have included performance
evaluation of business assistance programs, the innovation economy,
women-owned businesses, and the green economy. Previously, she was a
research economist at the Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of
Agriculture. She holds an M.S. in agricultural and natural resource econom-
ics from the University of California at Davis.
Fenwick Yu is an economist in the Office of the Chief Economist, Depart-
ment of Commerce. His work has included various international and domes-
tic issues. He also served as a commercial attaché for three years at the U.S.
Embassy in Beijing. He holds an M.A. in economics from Binghamton
Regina Powers is an economist in the Office of the Chief Economist, Depart-
ment of Commerce. Her recent work has included reports on the value of
federal statistical data, earnings in the manufacturing sector, and data-inten-
sive occupations. Previously, she worked at the U.S. Department of Labor as
an economist in the policy office and at the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration. She holds a Ph.D. in economics and a J.D., both from Indi-
See www.census.gov/econ/census/ and www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/ for
information about the Economic Census and the detailed industries covered by
For more details on how GDP is measured, see https://bea.gov/national/pdf/
Bureau of Economic Analysis, "Industry Data," www.bea.gov/iTable/iTable.cfm?
Calculated from data in "Waterborne Commerce of the United States, Calendar
Year 2013, Part 5 - National Summaries," compiled under the supervision of the
Institute for Water Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tables 1-1 & 1-5,
found at www.navigationdatacenter.us/wcsc/pdf/wcusnatl13.pdf.
Bureau of Economic Analysis, "GDP and the National Income and Product
Accounts," Table 1.1.5. www.bea.gov/iTable/iTable.cfm?ReqID=9&step=1#reqid
The U.S. Census Bureau collects and disseminates foreign trade statistics, includ-
ing foreign trade by custom districts and ports, available at https://usatrade.
National Coastal Population Report, "Population Trends from 1970-2020," found at
NOAA Report on the U.S. Ocean and Great Lakes Economy, found at https://coast.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries
manufacturing. This sector supported 2.1 million employ-
ees and $97.1 billion in value added in the ocean and Great
Lakes economy in 2012.
Results from the 2011 NOAA National Marine Recreational
Fishing Expenditure Survey demonstrates the importance
of marine anglers to local economies, as they generated
about $23.4 billion in total expenditures nationally. Their
trip-related expenditures were $4.4 billion, and they spent
another $19 billion on fishing equipment and durable goods.
Offshore Oil and Gas Production
Offshore mineral extraction generates a good amount of
economic value for local economies as well as for the nation
as a whole. According to the "NOAA Report on the Ocean
Economy," in 2010 close to one quarter of total U.S. crude oil
production occurred offshore in state and federal waters.
Offshore oil and gas production supported 160,000 employ-
ees and created $159 billion in GDP in 2012, and the Gulf of
Mexico region accounted for a large majority of this pro-
duction. The offshore mineral extraction sector has also
experienced higher-than-average wages and relatively large
Marine construction industries are also critical to ensur-
ing that the waterborne movement of goods remains unim-
peded. According to The NOAA Report on the U.S. Ocean
and Great Lakes Economy, marine construction industries
such as those heavy construction activities associated with
navigation channel dredging, beach replenishing, and
dock building supported 43,000 employees and contributed
$5.7 billion in GDP in 2012.
Further, this waterborne sector has some of the highest aver-
age wages per employee — $67,000/year, which was much
higher than the national average of $49,000/year in 2012.
The primary mission of the U.S. Coast Guard is to protect
and support our coastal communities, marine resources,
and waterborne commerce, which in turn protects the liveli-
hoods and safety of our coastal communities as well as our
The measures of the waterborne economy clearly demon-
strate how a breadth of U.S. economic activity — and the
value of our economy — relies heavily upon our waterways.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors
and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of
For more information:
NOAA's Economics: National Ocean Watch
NOAA's Coastal County Snapshots
Census' Longitudinal Employer-Household
U.S. Cluster Mapping Tool