America’s ‘Blue Economy’ Worth $373 Billion in 2018


Port of los angeles
File Photo: Port of Los Angeles

The United States’ marine economy contributed about $373 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product in 2018 and grew faster than the nation’s economy as a whole, according to new statistics released today by two U.S. Department of Commerce agencies.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in measuring the economic force of the nation’s oceans. Specifically, the “ocean economy’s” contribution to gross domestic product from commercial fishing, ship and boat building, ports, offshore oil and gas, tourism and recreational fishing, and other economic activity dependent on the oceans.

“These statistics are the first-of-its-kind estimate of the U.S. marine economy, a primary driver of jobs, innovation and economic growth,” said retired Navy Rear Admiral Tim Gallaudet, Ph.D., assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator. “Data such as these provide a critical baseline to inform, track progress and accelerate America’s economic recovery.”

The study considered 10 sectors representing businesses dependent on the nation’s oceans, coasts and Great Lakes between the years 2014 and 2018. It found marine-related gross domestic product grew 5.8% from 2017 to 2018, faster than the 5.4% growth of the total U.S. gross domestic product as measured in current dollars. Businesses included in the report also supported 2.3 million jobs in 2018.

“The marine economy statistics clarify just how dependent America is on our waters,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, acting director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service. “It is nearly impossible for most Americans to go a single day without eating, wearing or using products that come from or through our coastal communities.”

“For the first time, the United States has ocean data that can be compared with our official statistics on other U.S. industries and with the ocean economies of other nations,” said Mary Bohman, BEA’s acting director. “These prototype statistics offer a baseline for understanding the importance of the ocean economy, including recreation, seafood, transportation and ship building. Businesses, policymakers, and coastal communities can use these economic data as a compass as they chart the way forward.”



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