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While the Port of Galveston directly employs almost 100, it generates thousands of jobs through its cargo, cruise, shipping and construction activities. As port business continues to grow, so will these jobs. Wage-earners further boost the local economy by spending their wages to pay rent, buy homes, dine out, shop in stores and buy services.
Here’s one example of the jobs growth we’re seeing. In 2018 labor union hours totaled 567,422, the equivalent of 273 full-time jobs. In 2019, hours rose to 623,218, equal to about 300 full-time jobs. With a steady flow of wind cargo and an increase in cruise ships in 2020, we expect to see these hours continue to increase.
Labor unions have a long history with the port and are important to our future. International Longshoremen’s Association workers move cargo, including huge wind turbine parts and heavy equipment.
They also play an important role in moving passenger luggage and ship supplies for every cruise ship that calls in Galveston. In 2019, more than 1 million passengers boarded and disembarked from cruise ships in Galveston. That’s a lot of luggage!
MORE CRUISE SHIPS MEAN MORE JOBS
This year we expect 20 more cruise ship calls compared to 297 ship calls in 2019. Of course, that will mean more work hours for union workers and everyone else employed in cruise-related shore services.
Every time a cruise ship calls, hundreds of workers mobilize to supply the ship, move passenger luggage, shuttle passengers to and from parking lots, provide security and traffic control, and assist passengers with check-in.
A dozen different entities work in coordination to safely and efficiently move more than 1 million passengers on and off these ships annually.
According to our most recent economic impact study, our cruise activity generates 3,638 total union and non-union jobs for Galveston area residents, of which 1,695 were direct jobs.
Statewide, Galveston’s cruise business accounted for 26,241 jobs with total wages of $1.75 billion in Texas in 2018, according to a new report by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
Shipping activity through the Port of Galveston accounted for $6.4 billion in trade, affecting about 28,000 net jobs in Texas in 2018, according to the most recent Texas Ports report from the Texas Comptroller’s office.
In addition to the union workers who load and unload cargo, workers for stevedoring companies coordinate the logistics, pilots move the ships in and out of the channel, and line handlers tie up the ships when they dock.
As I mentioned earlier, we expect to hold or even gain on the cargo business we saw in 2019, largely due to strong and steady wind energy imports.
CONSTRUCTION IS COMING
Hundreds, if not thousands, of construction jobs will be generated in the next few years as major improvement projects get underway. The Galveston Wharves Board of Trustees recently approved 19 waterfront projects totaling an estimated $129 million. Funding sources would include port revenues, financing, grants and public-private partnerships.
In addition, Royal Caribbean International will begin construction of its $100 million cruise terminal project at Pier 10 this year.
Rodger Rees is Port of Galveston port director and chief executive officer.