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The big jobs boost from America’s airports

October 24, 2014

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A construction project at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Photo by Benét J. Wilson

Nearly 500 U.S. commercial airports support 9.6 million jobs, create an annual payroll of $358 billion and produce an annual output of $1.1 trillion, according to a new report from Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA).

The economic impact study, The Economic Impact of Commercial Airports in 2013, analyzed contribution U.S. airports made to the nation’s economy in the past year. These airports help accommodate travel for business and leisure in the United States and around the globe. They are key in shipping time-critical and high-value cargo and are also significant generators of economic activity.

Here’s some interesting data.

  • Commercial airports have created almost 1.2 million jobs, while spending from visitors spending supports another 4 million jobs. Airport construction projects employed more than 50, 000 workers in 2013.
  • Economic output from these airports exceeded $256 billion annually in 2013. Visitors using these airports spent more than $228 billion annually, while construction projects add another $12 billion to the national economy.
  • The total economic output of over $1.1 trillion was split closely between on-airport output and visitor spending, each supporting approximately $618 billion and $486 billion in output, respectively.
  • Construction activity contributed nearly $32 billion to the output. Visitor spending resulted in nearly 6 million jobs, while on-airport activities accounted for nearly 3.5 million jobs.

Despite facing the challenges of rising fuel prices, airline consolidation, and the ongoing recovery from the economic recession, the increase in direct economic impacts of commercial airports is significant. From 2010 to 2013, direct jobs, direct payroll, and direct output rose by 9 percent, 19 percent, and 8 percent, respectively. These gains are proof of a resilient airline industry, as well as a strong network of commercial airports that facilitate both aviation and the U.S. economy.

“The clear takeaway from this latest study is that our nation’s airports continue to be a tremendous source of economic activity around the country and across all hub sizes,” said ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin  Burke in a press release.  “Individually, the airport is the cornerstone of many local economies, and collectively airports spur an annual output of more than $1 trillion.  Not only does our commercial aviation system rely on such a robust network of airports throughout the United States, but so do a myriad other industries.  Our airports connect the people, products, and services that comprise the U.S. economy with markets across the country and around the world.”


For more ways to track the economic impact of airports on states and local communities, check out the resources below.

 Airports Council International-North America

American Association of Airport Executives

Federal Aviation Administration’s Airports Organization

National Association of State Aviation Officials


Benét J. Wilson is co-editor of AirwaysNews.com and blogs at AviationQueen.com. She has been an aviation/travel journalists for more than 20 years. Follow her on Twitter @AvQueenBenet


  • Benét J. Wilson

    Benét, known as the Aviation Queen, is a senior editor at TPG who is best known for being an aviation journalist for 25-plus years. Her love affair with travel and aviation began at age 6, when her Air Force family moved from California to a military...

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