Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 6 No. 3 | Fall 1984 (Seattle) /// Issue of 24 /// Master# 57 of 73

UNEMPLOYMENT: NO END IN SIGHT Boeing and subcontractors, co-directors FALLEN TIMBER The long-term decline in the timber industry has had a shattering effect on many rural counties in Washington. Ten timber-dependent counties have averaged unemployment of 15% or higher during the past four years. In five of these counties at least one out of every five workers cannot find a job. Shoalwater Jobs private logger, Mayr Bros., recently filed for bankruptcy. Jobs in both lumber and plywood production have dropped dramatically as the timber industry has begun to move to the southern states in search of cheaper labor, greater private control over lands, and lower transportation costs. Another blow to workers has been the increase in interest rates, which are again beginning to choke off growth in the housing market. Finally, many of the job losses have been due to productivity improvements, which allow mills to produce more lumber with less labor. For instance, Crown Zeller- bach has doubled the size of its huge Camas, Washington, paper mill, but the $300 million capital expenditure created no new jobs. Pacific County, one of those five, lies on the coast of Washington between the Columbia River and the Oregon border on the south and Grays Harbor County on the north. The county surrounds Willapa Bay, a shallow estuary which has been an oyster-growing and fishing area for some time. In northern Pacific County there are two incorporated cities — Raymond, a lumber-mill town and South Bend, a fishing town and county seat, home to Christina Hogner and Al Thierry. For over one hundred years, the county has depended primarily on the timber industry for jobs and livelihood. While at one time a large number of small and independent lumber mills flourished, today not only does Weyerhaeuser control much of the milling, it also owns 70% of the land in the county. Consequently, residents in the area have found themselves increasingly dependent on decisions made by a company over which they have no control. Cheryl Wilkie and Don Comstock are Raymond, a non-profit community development corporation that was created by the people of Pacific County to tackle the economic problems of the county. Overcoming the powerlessness engendered by corporate policies that put the bottom line above community need is no simple task. Calling Pacific County “the Appalachia of the Pacific Northwest,” Wilkie points out that “there is a large absentee corporation that owns the land, doesn’t reside there, takes everything out of the county, and doesn't give anything back.” According to Wilkie and Comstock, Weyerhaeuser and other timber companies have begun looking for cheaper labor to cut costs and increase profits. They are moving out of the county to the Southeast and overseas. With its remaining operations in the county, Weyerhaeuser has moved to cut costs by contracting out for non-union labor, forcing work speed-ups and introducing automation. In 1980, Weyerhaeuser shut down their Raymond shake mill, laying off 65 people. Weyerhaeuser then spent $30 million automating their major mill in Raymond, closing down the mill from 1980 to 1982 and forcing major work and wage concessions from the union. When the mill was reopened, the automation resulted in the permanent loss of 75 jobs. In May of 1984, Mayr Bros. Timber closed down its mill leaving another 70 workers out of work. All that remains of Raymond's once-di- verse and thriving timber industry is the newly-automated Weyerhaeuser mill, which workers say could easily be dismantled, put on a barge and moved elsenumber of workers employed in the aerospace industry has fallen to 64,000. Although Boeing has stated that it intends to hire 4,000 additional workers in Washington in 1984-85, that increase is less than half the number of people it laid off in 1983 alone. Washington’s second biggest industry, forest products, which employs 25% of the state’s manufacturing workforce, has also steadily declined from a post-war high of 76,000 jobs in 1951 to less than 55,000 jobs in 1984. Both Simpson Timber and Weyerhaeuser have announced major layoffs in recent months, and Washington’s largest independent in the early 1970s, aerospace, Washington’s most important industry, has not yet returned to its pre-recession employment levels. From a peak in 1968, when 105,000 people were employed at Washington’s extraordinarily high unemployment rate of nearly 11% during today's “recovery" is higher than that reached in any post-war recession prior to 1982. The economic forecasting service, Data Resources Incorporated, predicts similarly high unemployment levels for many years, dimming the prospects for a real return to prosperity. Unemployment in the state has climbed steadily over the last three decades. It averaged 5.2% in the 1950s; 5.7% in the 1960s; 8.5% in the 1970s; and 10.8% thus far in the 1980s. The overall U.S. unemployment figures have exhibited the same upward trend. State unemployment levels, however, have been higher than the national levels every year since World War II. The differential is widening. The trend of rising unemployment is largely due to the decline in. recent years of Washington’s basic industries. Employment in manufacturing has fallen off sharply since 1978 and is expected to remain at low levels well into 1987. A study conducted by Seattle planner Deborah Feldman shows that there have been 60,000 permanent and long-term job losses in the state’s manufacturing sector since 1979 — a loss of one-fifth of the manufacturing employment base. A significant share of these losses cited by Feldman are due to permanent plant closures in the state, well over 100 shutdowns since 1979. The greatest job losses have been sustained by the two industries which dominate the state economy, aerospace and forest products. In recent months, however, major plant closures and layoffs in other industries — aluminum, copper-processing and shipbuilding — have contributed to the unemployment crisis. In July, ASARCO corporation in Tacoma announced that its smelting operations will shut down entirely in June 1985. This means a permanent direct loss of 550 jobs. ALCOA shut down a part of its Vancouver plant, citing low product demand and high electric power prices. Over 150 workers were laid off. The Kaiser Aluminum plant near Spokane will be laying off 175 workers. In addition, Martin Marietta and Atlantic Richfield companies have both indicated that they plan to shut down or sell their Northwest aluminum plants. In the shipbuilding industry, Tacoma Boat corporation recently announced that it will be laying off nearly 500 workers. While not in the nosedive it experienced 1 AKEA LOOKAT THE HEADLINES— REAGANSAYS, ECONOMYBESTIN33 YEARS! NOWI THINKHE'S TALKING ABOUTTHEBESTECONOMY UNDER A REPUBLICAN ADMINISTRATION." Clinton St. Quarterly 9