In late April, labor and business leaders from around the Badger State stood up the Wisconsin Domestic Maritime Coalition (WIDMAC) as the voice of the domestic maritime industry in Wisconsin. The coalition, comprised of leading unions and employers from throughout the state, launched with an announcement of 41% growth of domestic maritime industry jobs in Wisconsin. These jobs are critical to the state’s supply chain, enabling the delivery of vital resources and supplies that businesses and citizens need during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the findings of a new report conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers on behalf of the Transportation Institute (TI), Wisconsin ranks among the top 20 states in the nation for the number of domestic maritime jobs, employing 9,670 individuals and generating more than $635.3 million in worker income. This thriving industry produces $2.2 billion annually for the Wisconsin economy – an 88% increase since the previous study was completed. The backbone of the domestic maritime industry is the Jones Act, serving as a pillar of economic strength and job creation for Wisconsin. Specifically, this law states that the transportation of cargo between U.S. points is reserved for ships that are crewed, built, owned and flagged American.
The new coalition will educate state leaders, media, and policymakers on the importance of this vibrant, growing industry, fighting for the nearly 10,000 domestic maritime workers in the state who continue to keep America’s supply chain moving forward in a safe and efficient manner. “It’s a fact – the Jones Act is a jobs creator and economic driver for Wisconsin,” said Michael Gerhardt, president of WIDMAC and vice president of the Dredging Contractors of America. “Shipyards alone account for more than 8,000 jobs and $437.2 million in worker income, having delivered over 1,800 American- made vessels for the U.S. government and private sector, including over 60 dredges. Deep-draft commercial ports and small recreational harbors are dredged and kept open by second- and third-generation family-owned, entrepreneurial U.S. companies, enabling domestic shipping companies to move millions of tons of cargo each year, which boosts local economies and strengthens the overall health of the state.”
James Weakley, president of the Lake Carriers’ Association, said, “Great Lakes vessels carry the raw materials that drive the nation’s economy. Our lakers are crucial to keeping the American economy running, and maritime workers across Wisconsin have stepped up to meet demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our ships are made and maintained in Wisconsin shipyards and move iron ore, grain, and coal from Wisconsin ports and deliver salt, cement, stone, and fuel to Wisconsin docks. With many of our sailors living in Wisconsin, we proudly stand up for this vibrant, all-American maritime economy.”
“The state of Wisconsin is a leader in the domestic maritime industry, supporting over 9,000 family-wage jobs and contributing over $2.2 billion to the economy,” said James L. Henry, TI chairman and president. “The findings in our most recent study and growing impacts in Wisconsin demonstrate the strength and necessity of the Jones Act.”
“These numbers show how the Jones Act is crucial to not only national security but also economic security and job growth. We’re proud to see the domestic maritime industry’s investments in Wisconsin lead to job growth like this,” said Michael Roberts, president of the American Maritime Partnership.
Thanks to the Jones Act, the domestic maritime industry now employs approximately 650,000 Americans across all 50 states, creates $41 billion in labor income for American workers, and adds more than $154.8 billion in annual economic output each year. Nationally, there are more than 40,000 American vessels – built in American shipyards, crewed by American mariners, and owned by American companies – that operate in our waters 24-hours a day, seven days a week.