Marine Economy Outpaced Overall U.S. Economy in 2019

America’s “blue economy” accounted for nearly $397 billion or 1.9 percent of GDP during 2019, with tourism and recreation — including fishing — the top contributor.
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1_NOAA Marine Economy

America’s marine economy contributed about $397 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product in 2019 and grew faster than the nation’s economy as a whole, according to the most current results of the first official Marine Economy Satellite Account from two Department of Commerce agencies.

“America’s strong marine economy is absolutely vital for building back better,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “President Biden sees the immense value and potential of strengthening America’s blue economy, and this administration will continue to take actions to combat the climate crisis, conserve our oceans, and protect our coastal communities.”

Experts from The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the Bureau of Economic Analysis made the findings when describing 10 sectors representing businesses dependent on the nation’s oceans, coasts and Great Lakes between the years 2014 and 2019.

The statistics offer national estimates for ocean, coastal and Great Lakes-related economic activity by major sector, accounting for inflation, according to the report.

Port of Los Angeles (Photo by NOAA)

Port of Los Angeles (Photo by NOAA)

Marine-related gross domestic product grew 4.2 percent from 2018 to 2019, faster than the 2.2 percent growth of the total U.S. gross domestic product as measured in inflation-adjusted dollars.

Businesses included in the report also generated a total of $665.7 billion in sales and supported 2.4 million jobs in 2019.

“These statistics show how powerful America’s blue economy is as a driver of jobs, innovation and economic growth,” said Ben Friedman, acting NOAA administrator. “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 their sales, are:

  • Tourism and recreation, including 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 ($7.0 billion)
  • Professional and technical services ($6.3 billion)

“These statistics are further proof that our waters are vital for America’s economy,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, acting director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service. “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.”

The data, report and other materials are available at Marine Economy | US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and on NOAA’s Digital Coast website

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