Goals: Better Industry Data, More Job Applicants August 2, 2014

Every five years, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) looks at the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) which documents the country’s industry and jobs classifications with an eye to incorporate new economic areas of activity – think of changes brought by the Internet – and refine and adjust what’s already on their books. For the marine industry, what’s there is both prolific and challenging to interpret. It’s difficult to get usable statistics for those of us currently in the business, for those who might be looking to invest with or in us, and for job seekers who want to work for us. Opportunity knocks!

OMB is soliciting proposals from the public for changes to the structure and content of NAICS for inclusion in a potential 2017 revision. We will be providing a laundry list of recommendations aimed at improving the system.

NAICS is a system for classifying establishments (individual business locations) by type of economic activity. Its purposes are: First, to facilitate the collection, tabulation, presentation, and analysis of data relating to establishments; and second, to promote uniformity and comparability in the presentation and analysis of statistical data describing the North American economy. Federal statistical agencies use NAICS to collect or publish data by industry. It is also widely used by state agencies, trade associations, private businesses, and other organizations. To get an idea of the complexity of the way jobs (called Standard Occupational Classifications, or SOCs) are listed in just the Ship & Boat Building category (designated NAICS 336600), visit

In addition to the Ship Building category, marine industry jobs also fall into fishing, transportation equipment merchant wholesalers, sporting good merchant wholesalers, boat dealers, deep sea freight transportation, deep sea passenger transportation, inland water freight transportation, inland water passenger transportation, scenic and sightseeing transportation, port and harbor operations, marine cargo handling, navigation services to shipping, other support for water transportation, and marinas. Some marine jobs fall under the manufacturing sector (31-33); while others are classified in sectors which include retail trade (44); arts, entertainment and recreation (71), and wholesale trade (42).

The complexity of the NAICS code makes it difficult for employers and job seekers to identify marine-industry positions as it crosses varied and unrelated sectors. For the same reason, calculation of marine industry jobs and economic impact measurements are devilish to compile.

For businesses seeking workers and workers seeking employment, it is difficult to promote marine jobs because of the complication of the industry sectors. This impacts the ability to hire and launch or grow a business. And it doesn’t present an accurate picture of the opportunities in the marine industry to job seekers.

MIASF, NMMA and other marine associations are partnering to offer suggestions to revamp the codes and gain the clarity in the classifications to benefit both members and prospective employees. This will serve the overall industry, those businesses planning to grow, current workers and the educational institutions and career development centers who work to place qualified skilled laborers into our industry. Click here to view a letter to the Economic Classification Policy Committee.

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Marine Industries Association of South Florida. 221 SW 3rd Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312. Phone: 954.524.2733