Oceans Impact the Economy

  • One of every 6 jobs in the U.S. is marine-related
  • Over 1/3rd of the annual U.S. Gross National Product originates in coastal areas – approximately $700 billion!

Oceans are an important part of American life:

  • Over 50% of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of the coast

Oceans have a tremendous impact on the nation’s economy:

  • Industries include: fishing & boating, tourism & recreation, ocean transport and more!
  • U.S. maritime transport carries 95% of the nation’s foreign trade
  • Ships move 2 billion tons of freight in and out of U.S. ports
  • Coastal & marine waters support more than 28 million jobs
  • Coastal areas are tourist destinations for 189 million Americans annually

The national ocean economy includes (as of most recent statistics 2004):

  • Over 2.3 million employees & $138.25 GDP TOTAL

The national ocean economy includes six sectors:

  • Construction
  • Living Resources
  • Minerals
  • Ship & Boat Building
  • Tourism & Recreation
  • Transportation

Top 5 states in ocean economy:

  • California, Florida, New York, Washington & Texas

  • Nearly 80% of U.S. imports & export freight is transported through seaports
  • More than 80% of the nation’s economy is supported in coastal states
  • More than 50% of the population and U.S. economic activity are in coastal counties
  • In 2004, the ocean economy generated more than $138 billion in annual total GDP – more than $5.6 trillion was generated from the coastal economy overall
  • The coastal states together produce a GDP that is bigger than that of any single country in the world, except the U.S.
  • The shoreline adjacent counties alone would be the third largest economy in the world after the European Union and the United States on the basis of GDP
  • The shoreline counties are more than twice the size of the United Kingdom’s economy

Coastal Economy

  • Coastal and Great Lakes states accounted for 83% of the U.S. economy in 2007
  • The 30 coastal and Great Lakes states had 245.5 million people, employed 107.5 million people & contributed $11.4 trillion to the national GDP
  • Shore-adjacent counties make up 18% of U.S. land area & account for 36% of the nation’s population
  • In 2007, 42% of the national economic output took place in shore-line counties
  • More than 3/4ths of U.S. growth between 1997-2007 was in coastal states, including: population, employment & GDP

Ocean Economy

  • In 2004, the ocean-dependent economy generated $138 billion or 1.2% of U.S. GDP
  • Coastal tourism & recreation dominated both employment and GDP in the ocean economy sectors with 1.7 million jobs (75%) of employment and nearly $70 billion (51%) of GDP
  • Marine transportation had the second largest GDP, with $27.6 billion, 20% of the ocean economy12


  1. National Ocean Economics Program. State of the U.S. Ocean and Coastal Economies., ONLINE. 2009. Available: http://www.OceanEconomics.org/nationalreport [7 May 2010]. []
  2. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Projected Participation in Marine Recreation: 2005 & 2010, National Survey on Recreation and the Environment 2000., ONLINE. 2005. Available: http://marineeconomics.noaa.gov/nsre/nsreforecast.pdf [7 May 2010]. []