UPDATE: Prince Rupert Port Authority CEO discusses economic impact study and growth

An economic impact study released by the Prince Rupert Port Authority shows the benefits of port activity has increased since 2009.

An economic impact study released on April 12 by the Prince Rupert Port Authority shows the benefits derived from port activity has increased significantly over just the past two years.

The study shows that the number of direct jobs attributed to on-going port operations is 2,330 creating 2,220 person years of employment. In comparison, a 2009 study showed there were 1,500 direct jobs attributed to port activity creating 1,300 person years of employment. That translates into 1 55.3 per cent increase in the number of direct jobs over the past two years.

The largest number of direct jobs are related to rail, accounting for 650 jobs, followed by trucking with 430 jobs, stevedoring (dock workers) at 340 jobs and the terminal operator accounts for 290 jobs.

The value of wages attributed to direct jobs has jumped from $80 million in annual wages in 2009 to $130 million in 2011.

When the number of indirect and induced jobs is taken into consideration, the jump is also substantial. This year’s economic impact study shows port activity is responsible for a total of 4,780 job – including 1,350 indirect and 1,100 induced jobs – that puts $200 million into the economy and create 4,550 person years of employment. In comparison, the 2009 study showed the total number of jobs related to the port was 2,720 person years of employment creating $150 million in wages.

“There has been so much anecdotal evidence that people are seeing an increase in economic activity, and it’s nice to have the evidence demonstrating the true economic impact port operations have. Particularly gratifying is the substantial growth in job numbers. 70 per cent growth [in person years] over two years is phenomenal. What’s interesting is that when you look back in 2009, a larger part of the work was part time, so not only are wee seeing more jobs but we’re seeing more full time work,” said Prince Rupert Port Authority president and CEO Don Krusel, noting he was a bit surprised by the level of growth in employment.

“When you think back two years, the traffic through the port hasn’t increased 70 per cent so the job growth is increasing at a faster rate than the level of traffic. I think that shows the compounding effect…Every additional tonne that is moved through this port will create more job.”

In terms of the value of trade through the port of Prince Rupert, the number is also quite a bit higher than in 2009. The value of all goods moving through Prince Rupert was between $4.9 billion and $5.5 billion in 2011 compared to a value of between $2.7 billion and $3.3 billion in 2009.

According to Krusel, the export numbers show just how far reaching the benefits of port activity are.

“That $5 billion in export supports thousands of jobs throughout northern BC, whether that is loggers or miners or others. Without the outlet through the port, those jobs may not exist,” said Krusel, noting thatthe volume of lumber being exported is back to what was sent out in the heyday of the Fairview bulk terminal.

“Lately we as an organization have talked about how we move traffic responsibly and in an environmentally sustainable way. I think this study shows we’re also working in an economically sustaining way not just for the region but for all of northern BC. We’re not just moving coal and grain and containers, we’re moving the economy.”

While somewhat surprised by the level of growth reflected in the report, Krusel says the future for the port of Prince Rupert looks even brighter.

“We sit at the threshold of even greater growth and expansion. I will go out on a limb and say that when we do another economic impact study in two or three years time, the numbers will be even more exciting than these,” he said.

“The best is yet to come.”

The reports were prepared by InterVISTAS Consulting of Vancouver.