Letter: Problems with Port director's logic
Last week's Spotlight provided an article by the Port of St. Helens director, Doug Hayes, on the Port Westward rezone controversy (see "," Dec. 8, A5). Hayes attempted to show that the rezone of the 837 acres of agricultural land should be approved because Columbia County had only 9,800 jobs in 2015 while Multnomah County had 487,000 jobs and Washington County had over 284,000 jobs.
There are several significant problems with his logic. First, yes, Columbia County has many fewer jobs in the county than the urban Multnomah and Washington counties have in theirs. Multnomah County may have 487,000 jobs, but is probably related to the fact that its population, as of 2015, is over 790,000. Washington County's 284,000 jobs is in the context of a population in 2015 of over 574,000. On the other hand Columbia County is a rural county with 9,800 jobs with a population of just 49,600.
The other problem with the claims of the Port director is that a very high percentage of the non-rural jobs in Columbia County are held by workers who commute in from neighboring cities in neighboring counties. Census data show that 42 percent of in county jobs are held by residents from out-of-county cities. This in a situation like Port Westward, where the nearest Columbia County cities are Clatskanie (pop. 1,721) and Rainier (pop. 1,895) and nearby industrial Longview, Wash., has a population of 36,648. The vast majority of any jobs created at Port Westward are likely to go to Longview area residents.
Thus when the Port gets into singing its song of "economic development" and "jobs, jobs, jobs" with lots of tax breaks and other taxpayer-funded incentives to attract industry, they want us to believe the jobs they are talking about are for Columbia County residents, but in truth they are not, especially in a place like Port Westward.