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Jon Talton

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

Topic: Maritime

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November 22, 2013 at 10:33 AM

Maritime, jobs, Eastside outlook and more

I was on the road (in the air, actually) for part of the week, so I need to play some catch up:

• My colleague Coral Garnick reported on the Pacific Marine Expo, including a new report showing that the maritime sectors have a $30 billion economic impact on Washington state. Like aerospace, software and biotech/biomedicine, this is a critical cluster.

Among its components: Passenger water transportation; boat and ship building, repair, and maintenance; maritime logistics and shipping; fishing and seafood products; and maritime support services. It is also a source of well-paying, blue-collar jobs.

It faces formidable risks. Climate change and overfishing threaten the ocean and its bounty. Members of Congress keep trying to weaken the Jones Act, which ensures some ship-building is done in America.

Closer to home, policymakers are not acting to ensure that infrastructure is maintained and built to ensure the viability of these sectors. Toxic competition between the ports of Seattle and Tacoma is not growing overall market share. Let’s not that this cluster for granted.

• Unemployment in metro Seattle and Washington ticked up last month. These reports always contain what economists call “noise,” so one month’s numbers should be approached with caution. Still, as my colleague Amy Martinez wrote, “October’s spike in joblessness, which continues a trend begun in August, suggests hiring has cooled considerably from spring and early summer.”

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Comments | More in Ports of Seattle and Tacoma | Topics: Bellevue Chamber, Eastside economy, Maritime

July 2, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Warehouses, waterways, construction, wood, jobs and jets

Catching up:

• John Boyd of the location consulting firm The Boyd Co. gave a presentation here last month. It listed Seattle 10th among 29 cities in the western United States and Canada for operating costs of distribution warehouses. The cost in Seattle totaled nearly $19 million annually. In Tacoma, the total was $16.3 million; Spokane came in at $16 million; Portland, $15.6 million. At $23.6 million, Vancouver, B.C. led the list and the lowest operating cost was Quincy, Wash., at $14 million. After the recession, the report stated, “communities are actively courting logistics industries because the economic benefits are clear and compelling.”

• The American Waterways Operators annual report was released, examining the impact of the tugboat, towboat and barge industry. The trade association offers an encyclopedic look at the performance, challenges and issues of this industry that remains a foundation of the Puget Sound Economy.

• The property and construction consultants Rider Levett Bucknall reported that construction costs in the first quarter of the year in Seattle were less than 1 percent. It was among the lowest in the 12 cities surveyed.

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Comments | More in Aerospace/Boeing | Topics: construction, logistics, Maritime

April 18, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Maritime interests worry about tax proposals

A container ship is loaded at the Port of Seattle. (Photo by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times, 2012) Olympia pays a good deal of attention to lobbyists from Boeing and Microsoft, which is understandable. It’s an open debate whether the tax breaks and incentives for aerospace and technology provide more revenue through job creation and…

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Comments | More in Agriculture, Ports of Seattle and Tacoma | Topics: Maritime