Port of Green Bay sees high number of shipments, indicating robust economy. Others disagree

Port officials say it's a good sign for the economy. Trade groups aren't so sure.
Published: Jul. 15, 2022 at 10:03 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Officials at the Port of Green Bay say the high number of cargo shipments they received last month point to a robust economy.

Yet others, including trade groups and experts, aren’t as optimistic.

Cargo shipments hit 329,000 tons in June that’s nearly double from May when it was 179,000 tons.

“When we see high numbers, it means our economy is booming along pretty good. It means that there’s a lot of building going on. There’s a lot of construction work going on, and that the companies that are buying those materials anticipate continuing to buy them for a while down the line,” Mark Walter, business development manager for the Port of Green Bay, said.

Green Bay’s port is a bulk commodities port, which means they mainly receive agriculture, manufacturing, and construction materials.

The majority of it comes from the Great Lakes region. so the port isn’t impacted by the supply chain issues other ports around the United States are experiencing with a bottleneck of container ships.

“The companies that are bringing in the cement, other limestone products, they’re bringing it in based on what they see as the business that’s coming up down the line for them,” Walter said.

Industry trade groups and experts are pointing to other factors in the economy, including the high inflation rate, for a cause of concern.

“Inflation is largely being driven by energy. And again, as a manufacturing dominant economy, manufacturers use a lot of energy in order to produce a product and then they use a lot of energy to deliver that product,” Kurt Bauer, president and chief executive officer of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, said.

Inflation is the highest its been in 41 years.

WMC has released two surveys over the last two weeks questioning its members on the workforce and economy.

“Workforce, followed by inflation, and supply chain. It has all led to quite a bit of pessimism with 71 percent of our members saying that they see a recession in the next 12 months,” Bauer said.

There’s an expectation the federal reserve will increase interest rates at its next meeting at the end of July.

“Construction companies figured that the more money they spend now the cheaper it’s going to be compared to higher interest rates in another or in another two months, so essentially they’re trying to beat the interest rate hikes,” Moses Altsech, a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said.

Reasons why the port had a "blockbuster" month of June

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