Growth in U.S. Ocean Economic Sectors Continues to Outpace Overall Economy

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surfer heading out on board to surf

The latest economic figures in NOAA’s report on the U.S. Ocean and Great Lakes Economy indicates that tourism and recreation was the top employer in the ocean economy in 2016. This sector contributed $124 billion in gross domestic product, the highest of all the ocean and Great Lakes economy sectors. Image credit: pexels.com



The nation’s ocean and Great Lakes continue to fuel economic growth across the nation. The latest economic figures in NOAA’s report on the U.S. Ocean and Great Lakes Economy show employment from the ocean economy grew 2.7% in 2016, compared to the national average employment growth of 1.7%.

 

The analysis completed for this report found that ocean and Great Lakes economy sectors created 85,000 new jobs between 2015 to 2016. Overall, the ocean and Great Lakes economy employed 3.3 million people. Tourism and recreation was the top employer with 2.4 million employees. This sector also contributed $124 billion in gross domestic product, the highest of all the sectors.

Highlights from this year’s report include:

  • Employment in the ocean economy increased by 14.5% from pre-recession levels (2007), three times the rate of recovery of the U.S. economy as a whole.
  • The tourism and recreation sector has more business establishments and employs more people than all other five sectors combined.
  • For the first time since 2011, these figures show a drop in gross domestic product. This is mostly caused by reductions in oil and gas prices, which led to a 17.6% drop in gross domestic product in the offshore mineral extraction sector.
  • This is the first year the report includes the wholesale seafood industry, which added 41.4% in employment to the living resources sector from last year.

The ocean and Great Lakes economy is comprised of six job sectors dependent on natural ocean resources: living resources; marine construction; marine transportation; offshore mineral extraction; ship and boat building; and tourism and recreation.

The 2016 report is derived from a NOAA Economics: National Ocean Watch (ENOW) dataset, which includes information from 2005–2016. ENOW is updated annually by NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management in partnership with the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Bureau of the Census.

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