Growth in Marine Economy Outpaces Overall National Economy

A new U.S. Commerce Department report says businesses that are dependent on the nation’s oceans, coasts and Great Lakes saw their marine-related gross domestic product grow 4.2% from 2018 to 2019, compared to 2.2% growth of the national GDP.

Businesses included in the report – including commercial fishing, aquaculture, ship and boat building – generated a total of $665.7 billion in sales and supported 2.4 million jobs in 2019, according to the report announced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on June 8.

“These statistics show how powerful America’s blue economy is as a driver of jobs, innovation and economic growth,” Acting NOAA Administrator Ben Friedman said. “This information will assist our nation’s economic recovery by helping policymakers, industry advocates and organizations track and accelerate investments in target markets.”

The 10 sectors ranked by NOAA and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) by their sales include: tourism/ recreation/recreational fishing, $235 billion; national defense and public administration, $180 billion; offshore minerals, $93 billion; transportation and warehousing, $64 billion; commercial ship and boat building, $31 billion; living resources, including commercial fishing and aquaculture, $27 billion; utilities, $12 billion; research and education, $10.4 billion; construction, $7 billion; and professional and technical services, $6.3 billion.

Nicole LeBoeuf, acting director of NOAA’s National Ocean Services, said such statistics are further proof of the importance of the blue economy.

“It is nearly impossible to go a single day without eating, wearing or using items that come from or through our ports and coastal communities,” she said.

In 2020, NOAA and the BEA released ocean economy prototype statistics for 2014-2018. This year’s statistics offer updated national estimates for ocean, coastal and Great Lakes-related economic activity by major sectors, accounting for inflation.

Additional data and related materials are online at Marine Economy | US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and on NOAA’s Digital Coast website.