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The Washington State Maritime Cluster Economic Impact Study – Washington State Maritime Industry – $30 Billion in 2012 Revenues

Community Attributes, a Seattle-based research firm, has just released their “Washington State Maritime Cluster Economic Impact Study.” Maritime history in our region, most notably fishing and trade, began when the first people settled here many thousands of years ago, followed by European and American expansion, and since then, we’ve experienced an infusion of cultural influence from around the world, creating a background for success.

While there is no question that our maritime industry is deep-rooted and essential to the economy of Washington State, this past May, the Economic Development Council (EDC) of Seattle and King County issued their “Request for Proposals for a Maritime Industry Economic Impact and Cluster Analysis for the Puget Sound Region and Washington State” in order to collect and provide facts supporting the importance of maritime industry here.

The task of Community Attributes, which was awarded the research work, was to identify and assess the contributions of the maritime industry and its connections with the community, as well as its economic impact and growth potential based on qualified, quantifiable data. The study requirements included:

– Develop a profile of the various components of the maritime industry, including the number of maritime firms (industry and type), employees (occupations and wages), and revenues.
– List the maritime companies, organizations, and institutions, both civilian and military.
– Map locations and note concentrated areas of these maritime entities.
– Profile the workforce of the maritime industry, including demographics for each employee class.
– Project occupational vacancies for the next two-to-five years.
– Analyze and assess the statewide economic impact of how these maritime entities connect directly, indirectly, and otherwise influence the economy of the Puget Sound area and Washington State as a whole.
– Develop a report and public presentation with clear break-downs for each sub-category of the maritime industry.

According to the report, Community Attributes interviewed more than 35 Washington State maritime industry leaders as a part of their research, categorizing six types of maritime jobs:

– Transportation of passengers, including ferries, tour boats, and cruise ships.
– Ship and boat building, and the repair and maintenance of recreational and commercial vessels.- Shipping and maritime logistics, which includes river and shore, as well as tug and barge services.
– Commercial fishing and work related to catching, processing, and selling seafood, as well as sport and recreational fishing.
– Maritime support services, which comprises business involved in port design, development, and management, legal, engineering, technical services, fuel sales, and the manufacture and sales of supplies, gear and equipment, and other vessel provisions. Not to be forgotten are the schools, teachers, and training programs for maritime careers.
– The study also includes maritime military work such as the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The study reveals good news: In 2012, the maritime industry in Washington State generated $30 billion in direct and indirect gross business revenues ($15.2 billion direct and $14.8 billion indirect). Over 148,000 people earn a living connected directly and indirectly (over 57,700 of these directly) to the maritime industry, with $4.1 billion total paid in wages to them in 2012. This translates to an average annual salary of $70,800, which is $20,000 higher than the median annual wage for the state. Further, each directly related maritime job supports another 1.6 jobs; for every $1 million in sales, another ten jobs are supported.

In the shipping and logistics sector, the study shows an annual growth rate of 10.2%, meaning more job openings for those skilled in this area. The study foresees continued demand for civil engineers, fishers and fish processors, captains, mates, pilots, sailors, laborers, and stock movers, with the highest number of predicted maritime jobs in the region opening between 2016 and 2021. There is currently a shortage of college-educated captains, mates, and pilots, ship engineers, and naval architects, and this shortage is predicted to continue until colleges and universities expand their programs.

Our state maritime industry in general has grown an annual average of 6.4%. Shipping and logistics have the largest industry, followed fairly closely by fishing and seafood processing. For revenue, fishing and seafood brought in $8,592.6 million while shipping and logistics brought in $3,722.4 million.

All of this is not completely surprising to those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest. If you are reading this, you are probably connected to the maritime industry, yourself, and even if not, you most definitely benefit from the maritime import/export business, particularly the imports passing through our busy ports for further transport throughout our area and the U.S. (An estimated 80% of all traded goods are transported by sea, but that’s another story.)

This study succeeds in demonstrating that the maritime industry in Washington State is a unique source of growth, prosperity, and opportunity with very strong ties to our state, national, and global trade economies. Those employed in the maritime industry work hard, and much of the work is dangerous. This study is an affirmation of their dedication and productivity.