Florida’s port industry lost 169,000 jobs, $23B in business during the pandemic

Cargo ships entering one of the busiest ports in the world, Sing
The industry urged Congress to include the industry in the next relief bill.

Florida’s seaports weren’t spared the economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic, a new analysis shows.

A report produced research company Martin Associates shows dips in every sector of the state’s maritime industry, from cargo throughput to cruises.

The result after more than five months of the pandemic recession: A loss of 169,000 Florida jobs and nearly $23 billion in economic activity. Job losses include those directly supporting cruise and cargo activity at Florida ports, as well as those lost as a result of the disruption to the supply chain and the maritime transportation system.

With no light at the end of the tunnel, the Florida Ports Council is urging Congress to help keep the industry afloat.

“Whether moving over a hundred million tons of cargo annually or millions of cruise passengers, Florida’s seaports generate and support a vast array of commerce and are the international gateways for goods shipped in and out of the state,” Florida Ports Council CEO Doug Wheeler said.

“We urge Congress to pass legislation to provide the maritime sector the same relief that has been offered to other industries during COVID-19, and to close the gap in current federal emergency assistance that has left critical links in the maritime supply chain isolated, impacting Florida jobs and the state-wide economy.”

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Wheeler said billions of dollars in funding is needed for emergency response, cleaning, staffing, workforce retention, paid leave, procurement of protective health equipment, debt service payments, and lost revenue.

“As you know, no funding has been provided in any of the previous COVID-19 relief packages to assist ports and the maritime transportation system. We urge you to consider maritime transportation sector emergency relief. We recommend that not less than $1.5 billion be made available to U.S. seaports, and not less than $2 billion for other eligible maritime business involved in the essential operation of this nation’s maritime transportation system,” he wrote.

“These vital emergency relief funds will close a huge gap in current federal emergency assistance that has left critical links in the maritime supply chain isolated.”

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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