Waco, TX (FOX 44) — Congress is moving closer to forcing the terms of a labor deal on rail workers and management.
We reached out to local economists to hear they don’t believe a rail strike would happen, but if it continues, it could severely impact our economy.
Local economist Ray Perryman from the Perryman group says nearly $30 billion could be lost in Texas if the railroad strike happens, and well over $200 billion could be lost in the U.S. economy.
Perryman says trains are a main source of transportation picking up goods and materials from port cities.
“It affects agriculture, it affects energy, it affects many categories of manufacturing,” said Perryman.
Perryman mentions how manufacturing is particularly important here in Waco and the Central Texas area.
“Manufacturing relies on trains. If you go out to the industrial parts around there [Waco], you’ll see train spurs in every one of them because they move things back and forth by rail,” said Perryman.
If workers go on strike, A&M Central Texas economic professor, Dr. Rob Tennant says the impact would be felt across the board.
“We can see higher prices, emptier shelves, slower refill of merchandise on the shelves, or delivery to our homes,” said Dr. Tennant.
Texas Trucking Association president John Esparza says the inactive railroads would add additional pressure on the already strained trucking industry.
“We’ve got a lot of trucks and a lot of freight that moves through Texas on any given day, and it can be impacted by delays in weather, certainly labor,” said Esparza.
The Texas Trucking Association sent a letter to the Biden administration on November 28 asking to put an end to this situation.
President Biden says up to 765,000 people could be put out of work in the first two weeks if the strike happens.
Perryman’s research shows similar results.
“If goods can’t get delivered, if products can’t get produced, people get laid off,” said Perryman. “We have the Christmas shopping season we’re in the midst of right now. Most of the things for that have probably already been delivered, but you still have a number of things, shipments that are coming in and that sort of thing can be disrupted.”
Outside of store shelves, experts say the railroad strike could also increase costs for electricity and gas.