Industry Impact

Why Waterways are Vital to Our Economy

The tugboat, towboat and barge industry is a major pillar of the American economy, contributing a total impact of $33.8 billion on the U.S. gross domestic product, creating over 300,000 jobs, and moving more than 760 million tons of vital commodities annually. The industry also provides critical services in support of homeland and national security, serving as an extra set of eyes and ears on our nation’s inland and coastal waterways. Our vessels are operated by companies dedicated to ensuring that mariners and their cargo reach their destinations safely and efficiently, with utmost care for the marine environment.
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 PricewaterhouseCoopers study, Economic Contribution of the U.S. Tugboat, Towboat and Barge Industry.
You can find informational one-pagers about the study here, and you can read the full study here.
AWO also released a video, part of the Spotlight On educational series, about the industry in summer of 2019. You can view the video here.