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AAPA report: U.S. ports' economic impact skyrockets to $4.6 trillion


U.S. ports' contributions to the nation's economy rose dramatically between 2007 and 2014, according to an economic impact study released earlier this week during the American Association of Port Authorities' (AAPA) spring conference in Washington, D.C.

Conducted by Martin Associates, the study found that the total economic impact soared 43 percent to $4.6 trillion over those years. The value was measured in terms of revenue to businesses, personal income, and economic output by exporters and importers. The value accounted for 26 percent of the nation's $17.4 trillion economy in 2014, a 20 percent increase compared with the $16.1 trillion economy in 2007.

"The growth in jobs and economic importance of America’s seaports reflects the fact that the value of international cargo handled at these ports increased by $400 billion since 2007, reaching about $1.8 trillion in 2014,” said Martin Associates President John Martin in a press release. “It's important to emphasize that the key growth in our international trade was in U.S. exports, which saw a 60 percent increase in value over the past seven years."

Other gains noted in the report included:
• Federal, state and local tax revenues generated by port-sector and importer/exporter revenues rose 51 percent to $321.1 billion;
• Jobs generated by port-related activity jumped 74 percent to 23.1 million; and
• Personal wages and local consumption related to the port-sector increased to $1.1 trillion, with an average annual salary of $53,723 for those directly employed by port-related businesses.

Martin and AAPA President and Chief Executive Officer Kurt Nagle said the report underscores the need to invest in infrastructure and technology to support the ports' growth. AAPA member ports have identified at least $28.9 billion in needed investments by 2025, Nagle said.

"These necessary road, rail, bridge and tunnel improvements are crucial to enable our seaports to efficiently handle their expected cargo volumes, continue providing dramatic economic and jobs impacts, and enhance America’s international competitiveness,” Nagle added.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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