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Jon Talton

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

May 7, 2012 at 9:55 AM

Maritime week: Ports’ job footprint goes much deeper

Barring major breaking news (and Europe’s ongoing troubles and the failure of austerity aren’t new), I want to continue to focus on the Puget Sound’s seaports, whose competitive challenges I discussed in a widely read column on Sunday. The ports are a major element of Washington’s trade-based economy. They’re also big jobs engines.

For example, the seaport of the Port of Seattle supports 21,000 direct jobs. But together with Sea-Tac Airport, it generates a total of 200,000 direct and indirect jobs with a payroll of $6.8 billion. The Port of Tacoma is responsible for 113,000 direct and indirect jobs statewide, including 43,000 in Pierce County (the number of direct jobs is 7,359). They are a backbone of the region’s blue-collar middle class.

Thus, many more jobs are at stake from the rivalry between the two major Puget Sound ports if they don’t collectively bring in more business. The Grand Alliance move from Tacoma to Seattle will cost jobs unless Seattle replaces them with new shipping calls.

OK. We can talk a bit about Europe.

Quelle horreur! Socialist (!!) Francois Hollande defeated Nicolas Sarkozy to become France’s president and the markets are surprised? Everybody knew Sarko was going down and the only real question is whether Carla Bruni sticks around. Austerity dictated from Berlin is not working. The continent is in recession and it’s going to get worse. People aren’t just mad about joblessness, but that the core issues of the crisis remain unaddressed. It isn’t that the continent has “been living beyond its means”; most of the distressed economies were running small or no deficits before the crisis. The roots are in real-estate speculation and an abrupt halt to private capital flows, as well as a banking crisis. The euro may not survive. Now the question is whether Hollande can move beyond plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose…

To the extent that anybody knows what moves the stock market — which has stabilized after its early swoon — the bigger problem is fear of an overvalued market in a slowing U.S. economy. And the flu its banks will catch from their, er, gambling in the eurozone.

And Don’t Miss: After austerity || Joseph Stiglitz/Project Syndicate

Today’s Econ Haiku:

The supersized moon

Like the U.S. housing boom

It came and it went

Comments | More in Eurozone, Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, Trade

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