The American Waterways Operators is the national trade association representing the US tugboat, towboat, and barge industry. AWO members operate on the rivers, coasts, Great Lakes, and harbors of the United States, moving important commodities safely, reducing air emissions, water pollution, and highway congestion.
The US tugboat, towboat, and barge industry play a significant role in the American economy. Nearly 5,500 US-flag tugboats and towboats and more than 31,000 barges move an average of 763 million tons of cargo on the nation’s waterways each year, including raw materials and commodities as well as finished consumer products (as per a study conducted by PWC in 2017). The industry provides tug and tow services in US ports and facilitates trade between ports in the US mainland, Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Additionally, it plays a role in domestic waterborne commerce; the industry also encourages international trade by giving tugboat services to large containerships and other oceangoing vessels entering US ports.
The study divided the impact of AWO on the American Economy into three parts:
1. Direct Impact: which includes the jobs provided by AWO, the income from labor and taxes are directly attributable to the industry
2. Indirect Impact: This includes continued employment, labor, and the taxes that have been collected throughout the history of the organization.
3. Induced Impact: This includes all the income directly and indirectly earned from the US tugboat, towboat, and barge industry’s spending.
American Waterways have a significant impact on the American economy. Energy-efficient water transport, therefore, continues to play a pivotal part in America’s transportation system and helps make America’s economy more competitive.