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Cross-border traffic into Whatcom the slowest in five years

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers interview travelers heading into the United States at the Peace Arch border crossing in Blaine, Sept 8, 2011.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers interview travelers heading into the United States at the Peace Arch border crossing in Blaine, Sept 8, 2011. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

With the Canadian dollar remaining weak throughout 2015, last year was the slowest in terms of local southbound border traffic in five years.

Last year just under 13.4 million people entered Whatcom County through the five border crossings, 2.5 million people fewer than in 2014, according to data gathered by Western Washington University’s Border Policy Research Institute.

That’s the lowest level since 2010, when 11.8 million people crossed the border.

The fourth quarter, when the Canadian dollar was at its weakest, was the slowest part of the year. During that quarter the monthly average was just under 964,000. That slowdown is also in line with what many local retailers experienced during the holiday season.

Since 2000, the busiest year was in 2013, when 16.2 million people crossed the border. The slowest was in 2002, when 9.8 million went through the crossings.

Forecasters are expecting the Canadian dollar to remain weak in 2016, weighed down by the current oil glut and a stronger U.S. dollar. After falling to 68 cents compared to the U.S. dollar on Tuesday, Jan. 19, the loonie has staged a bit of a rally in recent days, rising to nearly 71 cents on Friday, Jan. 22.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz

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