Whirlpool's pending Evansville plant shutdown will affect more people than just the 1,200 workers losing their jobs, according to a union-funded economic impact study.

Local, state and national union leaders gathered Wednesday to unveil a report about the statewide economic impact of the Whirlpool closure. An audience of 60-70 people attended the news conference, which was held at the Local 808 union hall.

The report was commissioned by the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council and Local 808, the union that represents most of Whirlpool's hourly workers. Good Jobs First, a Washington, D.C.-based research center, conducted the study.

Last summer, Whirlpool announced it would shut down its Evansville plant, which makes mostly top-mount refrigerators. Last month 455 workers lost their jobs when the plant eliminated its second production shift, and the remainder of the employees will be out of a job when the plant ceases production altogether in June. (Another 300 or so employees, mostly engineers, will remain employed at the site's refrigeration design center.)

According to the report, the plant closure will result in a ripple effect of another 1,536 jobs lost statewide and a decline of $17.7 million in property, sales and income tax revenue statewide.

The report was created using IMPLAN, an economic impact modeling system, and it also used data from a survey of 210 of Local 808's members.

"It conclusively proves what we've known all along. Whirlpool is an economic anchor to many more people than work here at the plant," said Jim Clark, national president of the IUE/CWA union with which Local 808 is affiliated.

Whirlpool spokeswoman Debby Castrale said the company appreciates the effort that went into producing the report, which highlights the hardship the job losses will cause.

"We regret this is happening to our employees and the community," Castrale said.

This report is not the first attempt to quantify the effects of Whirlpool's Evansville plant shutdown.

Earlier this month, Vanderburgh County Treasurer Rick Davis presented his own economic-impact report to Vanderburgh County Council. In that report, which looked only at the impact within Vanderburgh County, Davis estimated that the county could lose up to $1.9 million in annual tax revenue as a result of Whirlpool's plant shutdown.

That figure is based on estimated losses in both personal property tax paid by Whirlpool and county-option income tax paid by workers.

Davis called that estimate a worst-case scenario based on what the tax impact would be if none of the laid-off workers gets another job and if the Whirlpool property stays vacant.

That worst-case scenario is unlikely to occur, he said, and it will be 2013 before the county feels the full effects of the tax losses.

According to another source — a basic analysis performed for the Courier & Press by the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business — the Whirlpool shutdown could lead to the loss of another 300-360 jobs in Vanderburgh, Warrick, Posey and Gibson counties.

According to the IU analysis, the sectors likely to be most affected include wholesale trade, food service, management of companies and hospitals.

The center's Director of Economic Analysis, Timothy Slaper, called the estimate "a simple snapshot for one year," meaning that it predicts how many additional jobs will be lost one year after Whirlpool's shutdown.

Whatever the exact impact is, the participants in Wednesday's news conference said their larger goal is to raise public awareness of job losses, whether in Evansville or elsewhere.

"We simply have to find a way to stop this trend. It's eroding the middle class of this country," said Jack McNeely, president of the Central Labor Council of Southern Indiana.

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