Waterborne Commerce and the U.S. Economy: Telling the Untold Story

The tugboat, towboat and barge industry is a major pillar of the American economy and provides critical services in support of homeland and national security. Our vessels operate on U.S. inland and coastal waterways, crewed by mariners dedicated to ensuring that the vital commodities that sustain our way of life reach their destinations safely and efficiently.

Despite the importance of this industry, the role of tugboats, towboats and barges in powering our nation is one of the great untold stories of American commerce. AWO and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) signed a cooperative agreement to help tell that story through the new PricewaterhouseCoopers study, Economic Contribution of the U.S. Tugboat, Towboat and Barge Industry.


  • Jobs and GDP. 301,550 jobs nationwide, with a total impact on U.S. gross domestic product of $33.8 billion.
  • What We’re Moving. More than 760 million tons annually of vital commodities like petroleum, agricultural products, chemicals, coal, and manufactured goods.
  • Efficiency and Environmental Benefit.
    • 1 inland dry cargo barge can haul 1,750 tons of dry cargo, the equivalent of 16 bulk rail cars or 70 tractor trailers.
    • 1 inland liquid cargo barge can haul 27,500 barrels of liquid, the equivalent of 46 rail cars or 144 tanker trucks.
Read the full study here.
Read the press kit materials here.
Read the full press release, including a quote from MARAD Executive Director, Joel Szabat, here.

For more information, please contact Ben Lerner at 703-841-9300, extension 253, or blerner@americanwaterways.com.