According to the American Maritime Partnership (AMP), Kentucky ranks fifth in the nation for maritime jobs per capita. The latest data from AMP indicates a 35% increase in maritime employment from 2014.

This data should be of no surprise to Kentuckians, especially those near Paducah. Much of the First District’s economy depends on these maritime jobs protected under the Jones Act.

Maritime jobs by the numbers

The maritime industry currently employs over 20,000 Kentuckians and produces over $5.1 billion in state contributions. This booming industry owes itself in no small part to the natural geography of the state. The Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee rivers all converge in Paducah county to serve as an inland waterway hub for U.S. shipping efforts. Employing over half of all maritime employees in Kentucky, Paducah is a vital region for the American marine industry.

Of particular interest to Kentuckians is the private shipbuilding industry which boosts Kentucky’s economy by $2.2 billion every year. Specializing in construction and repair, these companies add $2.3 billion in worker income as well.

Reliable career pathing may also contribute to the success of the industry. Towboat Captain Martin Leake began his career as a deckhand. Within a few years, he became captain of a ship with an annual salary of $133,000 per year. Similar paths are readily available to motivated individuals in a still-growing industry.

Nationwide, the domestic maritime industry supports over 40,000 vessels and over 500,000 jobs. Maritime employees collect over $30 billion in wages each year and maritime taxes account for over $10 billion.

Employee protections under the Jones Act

This highly profitable industry would be unsustainable without its well-compensated and protected workforce. The Jones Act protects the workers of America’s rivers, coasts and other waterways with financial security when injured on the job. Maritime workers seeking to file or appeal a workers’ compensation claim may want to consult with a local attorney familiar with the Jones Act to explore the available options.