Shipping through the Great Lakes and Seaway system generates billions in revenues


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Shipping through the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway system has a major economic impact across eight U.S. states that generates more than 200,000 jobs and pumps tens of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy, according to a new report.

A recent marine shipping industry study found that navigation through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway system supports more than 237,000 jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity.

The study, titled “Economic Impacts of Maritime Shipping in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region,” was commissioned by the marine shipping industry in partnership with the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation and other government agencies.

The results of the study were announced Thursday in a press release by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

According to the DOT, navigation through the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system supports more than 237,000 jobs, with 147,500 of those positions located in what are considered to be the country’s eight Great Lakes states.

In addition to the jobs, the economic impact of shipping through the same region totals in the tens of billions of dollars, according to the report.

“Maritime commerce on the waterway in 2017 supported $25.6 billion in economic activity, $10.5 billion in annual personal income, and $4.6 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenue,” according to the study.

The states with the highest employment numbers relative to Great Lakes Seaway shipping were Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan, the study found. Likewise, domestic and international cargo transiting the St. Lawrence Seaway system totaled 38 million metric tons and was valued at $7.7 billion.

The study measured the effects of cargo movements in 2017 at Great Lakes ports, including employment, personal income, business revenue, local purchases, and federal, state, and local taxes, according to DOT officials.

Craig H. Middlebrook, deputy administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, said the study highlights the economic significance that shipping has at the local, state and federal levels across the region.

“This study documents the enormous economic contribution the maritime industry provides to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway region,” Mr. Middlebrook said in a statement. “In addition to providing well-paying jobs, maritime commerce is one of the safest, most fuel-efficient, and cost-effective ways to move goods that support key industries such as agriculture, steel manufacturing, and construction in the United States.”

In 2017, ports and marine terminals on the Great Lakes Seaway System handled 285 million metric tons of cargo valued at $15.2 billion, according to the DOT. Cargo included grain, iron ore, coal, manufactured iron and steel products, salt and other goods.

A link to the full study can be found at


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