Jobs & Economy
The tugboat, towboat and barge industry is critically important to the nation’s economy. With 5,500 tugboats and towboats and more than 31,000 barges, the industry moves more than 760 million tons of domestic cargo each year. The building blocks of our economy – agricultural products, petroleum, coal, chemicals, sand, stone, cement and much more – move on our nation’s waterways safely and efficiently. Barge transportation helps provide food for our tables, fuel for our cars, heat for our homes, and inputs for our manufacturing facilities. And, the critical harbor services that AWO members provide enable the oceangoing ships that carry U.S. products to export and bring imported goods to our shores from overseas to enter and leave port safely. Water transportation helps move our economy forward.
The industry also puts Americans to work. Tugboat, towboat and barge operators provide family-wage jobs for tens of thousands of hardworking Americans from coast to coast. These operators also support shoreside jobs that ensure the safety, efficiency and environmental stewardship of our industry. Underpinning these jobs is a longstanding maritime law, the Jones Act, which requires that cargo shipped between U.S. ports be transported on vessels that are American-owned, American-built, and American-crewed.
In July 2017, AWO released the PricewaterhouseCoopers economic study, Economic Contribution of the U.S. Tugboat, Towboat and Barge Industry. The study explores the industry’s economic contributions to employment, gross domestic product, and taxes at the national and state levels; details the types and quantities of vital commodities transported on American waterways; and looks at the efficiency, environmental and public safety benefits of waterborne cargo transport. Key findings from the study conclude that the industry supports over 301,500 jobs nationwide, with a total gross domestic product of $33.8 billion, and moves more than 760 million tons of cargo annually.
Learn more about the study here.