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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

January 28, 2010 at 9:15 AM

Keep on trucking? View from the cab shows recovery risks

Top of the News: Signs of the recession’s end, or at least easing, are starting to emerge. This is what I hear from Steve Gordon of Gordon Trucking, based in Pacific, a company plugged in across some wide stretches of the economy.

Gordon said he was pessimistic about a revival, but “I’m happy to report we as well as others in the trucking biz are starting to see some actual signs of life in volumes. It’s far from robust, but the last six weeks of ’09 were substantially better than (2008) and 2010 has started out relatively strong for what’s traditionally a slow time of year.”

The down side? A state Legislature and governor facing tough choices “off to kill us before we can do a rebound.” Gordon’s specific worry is what he terms an “overly generous interpretation” of applying overtime laws here differently than anywhere in the country. That caused the company to move 200 driver jobs out of state. In the first weeks of 2010, the firm has seen nearly $1 million in tax increases for unemployment compensation and a new sales tax on a satellite trucking service.

“As they warm up the machine down in Olympia trying to find new revenue sources, I’m sure we’ll see more tacked onto our tab. They simply don’t seem to get it that with most companies still in an extremely tenuous spot nearly all of these new taxes and fees cause further trade-offs in considering how we can expand the business, continue with our current

employee and benefit levels, and compete across the country and around the world.”

Gordon is no free-market zealot. I’d add that If the Legislature merely continues to cut spending, it also has competitive implications. It’s going to be a tough legislative session.

The Back Story: The Port of Tacoma is starting a $31 million expansion of a Washington United Terminals wharf. Manson Construction of Seattle will begin driving the first of 361 concrete pilings today in the Blair Waterway. The work will accommodate two large new cranes the terminal, owned by Hyundai Merchant Marine, added in January 2009. It will be able to serve the world’s largest ships.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Stim for high-speed rail?

We need to build, not study

It. That’s how we’ll roll

Comments | More in Ports of Seattle and Tacoma

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