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WFTCEF calls on the Federal Government to protect jobs in Washington state

By Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff

Trade-related job loss in Snohomish County is on the rise according to an analysis of data from the United States Department of Labor published August 7 by the Washington Fair Trade Education Fund (WFTCEF), a coalition of state labor, faith, environmental, farmer, and social justice groups.

Analysts from the WFTCEF recently gathered and examined data from the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, through which extended unemployment benefits are provided to a subset of workers having lost their jobs to offshoring. 

According to their report, Washington is the ninth state most affected by trade-related job loss with an increase of 133% between 2017-2019 totaling 10,323 jobs. In comparison three years prior, between 2014-2016, Washington experienced 7,780 lost jobs.

“Offshoring related job-loss is on the rise in Washington in recent years,” said Hillary Haden, Executive Director of the WFTCEF. 

According to their report, all corners of Washington have been affected by trade-related job loss, and Snohomish County has seen high numbers over the past three years. In total, 644 jobs have left the County since 2017 due to offshoring. These job-losses were felt in the cities of Arlington (436), Everett (188) and Lynnwood (20). 

“The job losses that Hilary talks about in the last three years is part of a long-term trend,” said Larry Brown, President of the Washington State Labor Council. “

Action taken by the federal government in recent years has actively promoted the offshoring of Washington manufacturing jobs, says Haden. According to the WFTCEF analysis, the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 incentivizes offshoring of jobs because it created significantly lower tax rates for firms that move production outside the U.S.

“If a U.S. company paid a 21% federal corporate tax rate on profits from goods made in Washington state, their income earned offshore would be taxed at only a 10.5% rate,” said Haden.” This is a major incentive for corporations to move production abroad.” 

Phase 1 of the US-China trade deal signed earlier this year in January has also made it safer for big corporations to offshore jobs in the state, says Haden, as it makes the relocation of jobs to China safer for big employers. 

“The numbers don’t lie. Things aren’t getting better. Washington is hemorrhaging more and more jobs to offshoring week after week, with devastating effects on the state’s working families, our communities and our economy.”

The WFTCEF is recommending that the federal government protect existing jobs in Washington, build new markets for Washington goods and services, and lift local and abroad wages through policies with international and environmental standards. Additionally, they’re advocating for the establishment of formal protections for joint labor activities — including collective bargaining — for workers across borders and enforcing bans on products made with forced labor. 

“The growing trade-related job loss in Washington is not inevitable, but it is not going to change unless our trade-policy changes,” stated Haden. 

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