Lasting fallout from port slowdown – lost jobs, lost exports – time to rebuild confidence, reputation

Take a minute to read AWB president Kris Johnson’s op-ed in the Wenatchee Business World. 

Although the dispute between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union finally reached an end in late February, it’s clear that the months-long slowdown in the movement of goods in and out of our ports will have long-lasting and far-reaching effects on the Northwest economy.

A recent survey of Association of Washington Business members illustrated just how interconnected our economy is, and how closely Washington employers are tied to international trade.

More than half of the nearly 500 survey respondents said the slowdown had impacted their business or business operations, and more than 30 percent said they experienced work stoppages, a reduction of workforce, loss of customers or all of the above as a result. Nearly 15 percent said their business lost customers due to the port slowdowns.

It’s a good piece. Repairing the damage will take time and a visible commitment to making sure it doesn’t happen again.

The Wenatchee World documents the effect on area jobs.

The uptick of 0.2 percentage points [in the jobless rate] over January 2014 could be attributed to reduced processing and shipping of perishable goods — mostly fruit — due to slowdowns at West Coast ports in the year’s last quarter.

Our evidence for these job losses is anecdotal,” said state Regional Labor Economist Don Meseck. “But if I had to put my finger on some factor, the (port) slowdowns would be the first place I’d look.”

Between November and mid-February, exporters suffered millions of dollars in lost revenues due to the work slowdowns at ports in Seattle, Tacoma, Longview and Portland, Ore. Those slowdowns resulted in an estimated 30 percent decline in shipped goods with resulting cutbacks in some operations and jobs for growers of fruit, hay, potatoes, Christmas trees and many manufactured products.

The Washington Research Council has a good quote from Labor Secretary Tom Perez on the lasting damage