Economic Impact of State’s Maritime Industry Outlined in New Report

A new Sea Grant report puts the value of Connecticut’s maritime industry at nearly $7 billion. (Photos from "Valuing the Coast: Economic Impacts of Connecticut's Maritime Industry")

A new Sea Grant report puts the value of Connecticut’s maritime industry at nearly $7 billion. (Photos from ‘Valuing the Coast: Economic Impacts of Connecticut’s Maritime Industry’)

The value of Connecticut’s maritime economy is nearly $7 billion, according to a report titled “Valuing the Coast: Economic Impacts of Connecticut’s Maritime Industry,” released this week by the University of Connecticut at Avery Point.

Lead author Robert S. Pomeroy is professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and a Sea Grant college fisheries extension specialist.

Pomeroy says the goal of the study was to document the significance of the maritime industry to Connecticut’s economy. Using the latest available data, from 2010, the analysis utilized seven study sectors classified by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) as directly related to the state’s maritime industry.

Amusement and recreational activities are one of seven sectors studied for the report.

Amusement and recreational activities are one of seven sectors studied for the report.

These were: commercial fishing; seafood product preparation and packaging; ship building and repairing; boat building; transport by water; scenic and sightseeing transportation and support activities for transportation; and amusement and recreational activities.

“Although $7 billion is a healthy number,” Pomeroy says, “we believe the total impact of the state’s maritime economy is actually even higher because this study only looked at seven sectors [of the economy]. One important area not included in the report is Connecticut’s growing aquaculture industry, which involves farming fish, mollusks, crustaceans, and aquatic plants. The DOC classifies aquaculture as being part of the state’s agricultural industry, so those numbers are not reflected in our findings.”

Economic model

Recreational activities are the most important sector for Middlesex County, one of four coastal counties most involved in the maritime industry.

Recreational activities are the most important sector for Middlesex County, one of four coastal counties most involved in the maritime industry.

Pomeroy and his colleagues used an economic model developed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Wassily Leontif that makes it possible to quantify the interdependencies between different branches of the economy. Leontif’s model shows how the output of one industry serves as an input to each of the other industries in the study.

The total economic output impact, measuring the value of the goods or services produced in each of the sectors studied, resulted in a finding of $6.83 billion at the state level, and $5.88 billion for the four coastal counties most involved in the maritime industry. These include the counties of Fairfield, New Haven, Middlesex, and New London. Notably, the research showed that New London County alone accounts for a little less than 50 percent of the total state output impacts.

For Connecticut, ship building for commercial and military purposes is the sector contributing the most to the economy among the seven sectors measured. However, for counties other than New London, the most important sector is transport by water for Fairfield; scenic and sightseeing transport and support activities for transportation in New Haven; and other amusement and recreation industries for Middlesex.

Employment and value added impact

Ship building contributes the most jobs to the state's economy.

Ship building contributes the most jobs to the state’s economy.

The study also showed that Connecticut’s maritime industry is an important contributor to employment, with nearly 40,000 people being employed in the industry, of which 32,000 come from the four southernmost counties in the state. Among the seven sectors studied, ship building, which employs approximately 17,600 people, contributes the most jobs to the state’s economy.

When looking at the total value added impact, which is defined as salaries, wages, and other income added by economic activity, the study reported a statewide figure of $4,017.5 million and a four county figure of $3,456 million, again showing that the seven sectors evaluated are important contributors to the state’s economy.

Growing importance of maritime and aquatic industries

For purposes of comparison, a previous study commissioned by the Connecticut Maritime Coalition using 2007 data, reported that Connecticut’s maritime dependent industries were estimated to account for over $5 billion in business output, generating approximately 30,000 jobs. While the two studies used different methodologies, the results are comparable and show the critical economic importance of an evolving maritime industry to the state’s coffers and to providing a stabilizing economic force for Connecticut citizens in otherwise uncertain times.