Coos County: 2017 Annual Update

by Annette Shelton-Tiderman

May 7, 2018

As Coos County’s unemployment rates reach record lows, other statistics are also showing steady improvement. The civilian labor force, after plummeting from its 2006 peak (28,615, annual average) to the depths in 2015 (25,947), is showing noticeable growth. The recently released 2017 annual labor force data reveal that last year’s civilian labor force averaged 26,645 – these are people working or actively seeking employment. The number of people unemployed averaged 1,471 in 2017, substantially less than the recessionary peak of unemployed that soared to 3,722 in 2009. The number of employed individuals peaked in 2008 at 25,771; dropped to 23,690 in 2013 and then climbed to 25,174 (2017).

Employment in Coos County Provides Many Opportunities

So, where do Coos County workers find employment? Currently, the largest employing sector is government (20.2%). Within government, federal employment accounts for 5.4 percent; state for 18.1 percent; and local government for 76.5 percent. Local government has a substantial presence in health care and social assistance (29.5%), and in education (30.1%). Other major industries include trade, transportation, and utilities (19.0%; of which, 70.3% is retail trade); private education and health services (12.0%; nearly all jobs are in health care and social assistance); leisure and hospitality (11.4%); and professional and business services (8.5%). Manufacturing (7.6%), a much-valued source of good-paying jobs, continues a long-term trend of overall declining employment – attributable to improved technologies and overall economic changes.
Public Agencies Make Up a Key Sector

Government employment in Coos County has been steadily declining since the pre-recession days of 2006. Between 2006 and the lowest employment levels in 2010, government employment dropped from 6,236 to 6,048 (-188 jobs). Since 2010, an additional 57 jobs have been shed. Losses have been primarily concentrated in local government – tribal activities, the county’s health districts, community college, school districts, as well as entities providing county and city services. Local government, which accounts for three out of every four jobs in public service, has shed 5.4 percent (-262) of its jobs in the past decade.

Private Sector Businesses on the Rebound

Trade, transportation, and utilities currently provides 4,297 jobs. This is a far cry from the 4,518 jobs in 2006. However, the initial losses between 2006 and 2010 (-445 jobs) have rebounded 5.5 percent (224 jobs) since 2010. Over 70 percent of this industry’s employment is in retail trade. Accounting for just over 13 percent of the county’s employment, employment in retail trade is still nearly 2 percent below pre-recession levels.

Professional and business services businesses range from the local accounting firm to staffing agencies and many others engaged in providing services to individuals and businesses. In 2006, three of every four jobs in the professional and business services sector were found in administrative and support services – often staffing or related agencies. As the economy contracted, employment in administrative and support services dropped 825 jobs (-38.1%); overall, jobs in this area are still more than 38 percent below 2006 levels and account for only two out of three jobs in the broader industry sector.

Leisure and hospitality, tied to the overall economic well-being of tourists, has shown an impressive rebound since the lows of 2010. Having lost nearly 10 percent of its jobs between 2006 and 2010, this industry has added those 248 jobs back as well as an additional 133 for a nearly 17 percent growth since 2010. This particular industry often provides that first-job opportunity to area youth as well as part-time employment for other workers.

Private education and health services was the only industry to escape serious job losses during the recession. In fact, from 2006 to 2010 this industry added 266 jobs (13.0% growth)! During the ensuing years of recovery, it added more than 400 jobs making it the area’s rising star. Nearly all of the jobs in this sector are in health care and social assistance, as most of Coos County’s education services are public and reported under local government.

Although manufacturing employment continues to decline, adjusting to changes in the work environment as well as global supply-demand constraints, Coos County’s wood product manufacturing has shown remarkable resilience. Accounting for over half of the manufacturing sector’s employment, wood product manufacturers shed nearly 26 percent of their jobs (-228) from 2006 to 2010. Between 2010 and 2017, they added 241 jobs, a nearly 37 percent rebound!


Economic shifts of the last decade show substantial employment changes. Overall, between 2006 and 2010, Coos County lost 2,366 jobs – and 72 businesses. The recovery since then has been slow. The county is still nearly 1,000 jobs below the pre-recessionary peak and shy 16 businesses. Behind the shifting employment levels, are the effects on wages. In 2017 dollars, the pre-recession 2006 payroll provided $808,608,166 to workers in the community. The 2017 value of the 2010 payroll was $748,456,858 – a decline of 7.4 percent in purchasing power. The recovery to-date currently generates $862,235,651 in payroll. Recovery, yes…but at a substantial cost between 2006 and 2017.

It has been said that population drives supply and demand for goods and services. It is important to note that during the past decade, the county’s population remained stable, averaging around 0.2 percent growth. As is typical in rural areas, the population is aging, and by 2017, more than one-quarter of residents were ages 65 and over. The loss of jobs and population considerations, including slow growth rate, an increasingly older population, and continued reliance on in-migration, suggest that the county may continue to find it challenging to sustain business expansion and regain peak employment levels across all industries.

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