U.S.-Flag Laker Cargos Are Big Jobs Generator

October 18, 2011
October 18, 2011 LCA

CLEVELAND—Cargo hauled on the Great Lakes in U.S.-flag vessels is responsible for more than 103,000 jobs in the United States that pay an average wage of $47,000 finds a comprehensive study released today.  The report, a year in the making, further determined the value of economic output tied to those cargos topped $20 billion in 2010.  Federal, state and local taxes totaled more than $2.2 billion.

“The value of U.S.-flag Lakes shipping has never before been so well illustrated,” said James H.I. Weakley, President of Lake Carriers’ Association, the trade association that represents U.S.-flag vessel operators on the Lakes.  “These facts and figures will help us fight for our fair share of federal dredging dollars, a second Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, renewal and expansion of the U.S. Coast Guard’s icebreaking fleet, and other needs that will determine if those jobs stay and grow, or whither and go.”

The study, titled The Economic Impacts of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System, was commissioned by several members of the Great Lakes shipping community, LCA included, in partnership with the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation in Washington, DC, and the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  Martin Associates of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, performed the analysis.

U.S.-flag “lakers” haul raw materials: iron ore for steel production, coal for power generation, limestone and cement for the construction industry, as well as salt, sand, grain, and other dry- and liquid bulk cargos.  In total, there are about 65 large U.S.-flag self-propelled vessels and tug/barge units.  In a boom economy, the U.S.-flag Lakes fleet can haul upwards of 115 million tons of cargo over the course of the shipping season.

Weakley noted that using 2010 as the base year for the study actually reduced the contributions of U.S.-flag shipping.  “Like the economy in general, U.S.-flag shipping on the Lakes has yet to fully recover from the recession.  In 2010, five of LCA’s vessels never sailed and other vessels sailed less than full seasons.  Five ships have remained idle this year.  When the fleet is back to full strength, the job count and economic benefits will increase noticeably.”

Since Indiana is the largest steel-making state, it boasts the most jobs tied to U.S.-flag shipping – 39,903.  Michigan follows with 23,485, but Ohio is close behind – 23,334.  The “Wolverine state” is the capital of the Lakes’ limestone and cement trades; the “Buckeye State” is the second-largest steel producer in the U.S.

Wisconsin jobs tied to U.S.-flag Lakes shipping total 5,589.  The “Badger State” is home to three shipyards.

Illinois’ 5,356 jobs reflect the concentration of heavy manufacturing along the southern shore of Lake Michigan.

Minnesota is home to the Mesabi iron range and many of the state’s 4,309 jobs are associated with mining taconite that is shipped in U.S.-flag lakers to steel mills.

With just a very short shoreline on Lake Erie, Pennsylvania has only one port, Erie, on the Great Lakes, but U.S.-flag cargos still generate more than 750 jobs.  Western New York gains more than 300 jobs from U.S.-flag Lakes shipping.

The system-wide impacts of Great Lakes shipping in vessels of all flags are equally impressive: 227,000 jobs in the U.S. and Canada; $54 billion in annual personal income, business revenue, and local purchases; and $4.6 billion in federal, state/provincial, and local taxes.

Lake Carriers’ Association represents 17 American companies that operate 55 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes and carry the raw materials that drive the nation’s economy: iron ore and fluxstone for the steel industry, aggregate and cement for the construction industry, coal for power generation….  Collectively, these vessels can transport more than 115 million tons of cargo per year when high water offsets lack of adequate dredging.  More information is available at www.lcaships.com.

Source: Lake Carriers’ Association.

Contact:Glen G. Nekvasil, Vice President (440-333-9996).

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