Rising Manufacturing, Trade Activity to Bolster US Water Freight Revenues


Cleveland, OH, July 20, 2021 — US freight by waterway revenues are forecast to grow 3.3% annually in nominal terms through 2025, according to Freight by Waterway: United States, a report recently released by Freedonia Focus Reports. Waterborne freight activity will be sustained by advances in agricultural, manufacturing, and mining output, and international trade activity. Marine shipping companies face competition from alternative modes of transport, namely rail and truck, but also air freight. However, waterborne freight carriers will benefit from the capacity to integrate operations with rail and trucking firms to capture intermodal shipping business. In 2021, revenues are projected to rise 6.6% as the industry recovers from the declines caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Manufacturers’ shipments are forecast to expand 5.7% in 2021 after contracting 7.5% in 2020. The volume of mining materials handled is projected to rise 3.6% in 2021, a reversal from 4.1% declines in 2020.

Revenues generated by US coastal and Great Lakes freight transport establishments are projected to remain the largest segment. Great Lakes shipping activity will be supported by growth in the construction and manufacturing sectors, which is expected to boost shipments of crude materials such as industrial minerals, sand, and lumber. Ongoing manufacturing gains will drive demand for the transport of final goods such as motor vehicles, parts, and machinery, as well as raw materials needed as inputs.

These and other key insights are featured in Freight by Waterway: United States. This report forecasts to 2021 and 2025 US freight by waterway revenues for employer and nonemployer firms in nominal and real (inflation-adjusted) dollars. Total revenues in nominal and real terms are segmented by establishment type in terms of:

  • coastal and Great Lakes
  • deep sea
  • inland waterway

To illustrate historical trends, total revenues in nominal and real terms and the various segments are provided in annual series from 2010 to 2020. In addition, the US international goods trade is provided in annual series from 2010 to 2020.

Revenues for water transport support activities are also forecast to 2021 and 2025, and provided for the 2010-2020 historical period. Total revenues in nominal terms are segmented by establishment type in terms of:

  • marine cargo handling
  • navigational services to shipping
  • port and harbor operations
  • other support activities

Total revenues for the US freight transport industry for the 2010-2020 period are also provided and segmented by mode as follows:

  • truck
  • rail
  • pipeline
  • water
  • air

The scope of this report includes the revenues of for-hire water transport firms, as well as for-hire fleets that are dedicated to a particular client. Captive water transport services (i.e., businesses that maintain their own boats, ships, or barges to transport company goods or employees) are excluded.

More information about the report is available at: