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Linn County's Manufacturing Sector Shows Signs of Recovery
by Pat O'Connor
Published Jan-26-2012

Linn County's economy experienced significant job loss in recent years. As the nation's housing market began to slow in 2007, Linn County showed signs of the job loss that lay ahead for the nation. Linn County's wood product manufacturing employment began shedding jobs before the "Great Recession" officially started. By the time the recession officially began in January 2008, Linn County's wood product manufacturing had shed 420 jobs or 18 percent from January 2006 to January 2008. From its recent peak year in 2005, wood product manufacturing employment in Linn County went from 2,350 to 1,410 in 2010, a 40 percent downturn and a loss of 940 jobs.

Linn County's primary metal manufacturing employment also contracted, but not until the nation's recession was in full swing. The sector's annual employment peaked in 2008 at 2,090, but dropped to 1,680 by 2010, nearly a 20-percent contraction and a loss of 410 jobs over that two-year period.

The picture was not much better in the nondurable goods portion of manufacturing. The most visible loss was the closure of the paper mill in Millersburg along Interstate 5 that had been in operation for more than half a century. Nondurable goods manufacturing in the county has been slowly shedding jobs since 2002, but that job loss accelerated during the recession. In 2008 nondurable goods employment was 2,230. By 2010 that declined to 1,890 jobs, a 15 percent decline and a loss of 340 jobs.

Despite the steep job loss that Linn County's manufacturing sector has experienced in recent years, there are signs of recovery and job growth. The 12-month moving average for Linn County's manufacturing employment bottomed out in late 2010 and early 2011. Since that low point in February 2011, the sector's 12-month moving average grew 3.5 percent, adding 230 jobs.

The county's manufacturing sector grew 5.5 percent, adding 360 jobs since November 2010. Most of the growth occurred within durable goods, which added 330 of the sector's 360 jobs over the past 12 months.

Linn County's recent employment growth in manufacturing is in contrast to Oregon's manufacturing sector which reported a slight job loss over the past 12 months, declining 0.7 percent.

Graph 1
Linn County manufacturing employment