Economic Impact of the Great Lakes

Growing Blue

More Than 1.5 Million Jobs, $62 Billion in Wages Directly Tied to Great Lakes

Water supplies play a substantial role in local and national economies, according to a University of Michigan analysis of economic data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The report, released in February 2011, looked specifically at the area surrounding the Great Lakes, – lakes which throughout history have shaped the culture and economy of the eight states that border them.

The analysis found that more than 1.5 million jobs are directly connected to the Great Lakes, generating $62 billion in wages. The recreational opportunities provided by these lakes make the region attractive to businesses looking to locate in the area. Specifically, the analysis found that the Great Lakes support jobs across a number of industries:

  • Manufacturing: 994,879 jobs
  • Tourism and recreation: 217,635 jobs
  • Shipping, including freight transport and warehousing: 118,550 jobs
  • Agriculture, fishing and food production: 118,430 jobs
  • Science and engineering: 38,085 jobs
  • Utilities: 10,980 jobs
  • Mining: 10,003 jobs

The analysis also illustrated that the Great Lakes region impacts the broader U.S. economy. In 2009, the approximately 83 million people in the Great Lakes region contributed nearly a quarter of the nation’s exports and 27 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. The area has a thriving university presence that produces 32 percent of the nation’s advanced science and engineering graduates, helping support future economic growth. Nearly 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies are based in the region.

Protecting the Great Lakes and other major water sources is critical not just to continue providing water to local communities, but also to support ongoing local and national economic growth.

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Study: More than 1.5 million jobs, $62 billion in wages directly tied to Great Lakes