Josephine County’s Alvin Lee Look at Industry Trends – 10 Years After

by Guy Tauer

January 3, 2019

British blues-rock guitarist Alvin Lee was the front man of the band Ten Years After. So it seemed a fitting title, one that pays homage to this late musician for a review of Jackson County’s job growth trends during the course of the Great Recession and subsequent recovery. Back in July, we published a summary of the employment outlook and forecast for the next 10 years. Now we’ll shift our vision to the rear-view mirror and take a look back at the past 10 or so years of job change by industry.

After employment peaked in 2006, nonfarm payroll employment fell by about 1,470 jobs from 2006 to 2008. Even though the recession officially ended in June 2009, Josephine County employment continued to contract, shedding about 2,000 more jobs from 2008 to 2010. I’d love to change the world and erase this painful chapter, but since I can’t, let’s take a look back and see what industries have fully recovered those losses and what industries haven’t recovered. I’m a lucky man that I was able to stay employed during that past downturn, but many were not. Our current recovery seems to have some long legs. There’s a feeling that our current expansion may be running its course, but so far there is not much evidence of a slow down, but it will happen sooner or later. (Words in italics in the opening section are all songs by Alvin Lee, rest in peace.)
None of the broad industry categories gained jobs during the Great Recession in Josephine County. For this recession loss and recovery gain chart, I didn’t strictly adhere to a 10-year look at employment history. Instead, the pre-recession peak was used. Josephine County industries reached their pre-recession peak employment between 2002 and 2008.

Manufacturing employment took a big hit during the last recession, declining by about 1,200 jobs, and the largest net decline among Josephine’s broad private-sector industries. Since then, current estimates show employment recovering only modestly in fact still about 540 jobs below the previous peak total. Wood products manufacturing has not really recovered many jobs, and it’s most recent peak was in 2002. As of October 2018, wood products manufacturing employment is almost 400 jobs lower than the total in October 2002.

Construction employment peaked in 2005, so data for this industry is for the 2005 to 2018 period. Construction had the second largest net job loss during the previous downturn, shedding over one-half of total jobs, or a decline of 1,130 jobs from peak to trough employment. Most current estimates show this industry added back about one-third of those jobs as of October 2018, or an increase of about 390 jobs from the low-point in 2010-2014. While Oregon has regained and now surpassed its prior pre-recession peak in construction employment, Josephine County has a long way still to go.

Retail trade is another industry that felt the brunt of the Great Recession locally. Retail trade employment slipped by 500 jobs during and just after the official end to the Great Recession. Since that low-point, retail trade added back 680 jobs as of October 2018, according to preliminary estimates produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Professional and business services has regained the jobs lost during the recession and is now 740 jobs above its prior employment peak in 2005 This diverse mix of industries lost 200 jobs, but has since regained 940 of those to exceed its previous peak.

Leisure and hospitality employment had the fifth largest net job loss, down by 210 jobs as the economy tanked. Since then this sector has far surpassed it previous peak, adding 950 jobs from the trough to October 2018.

Another industry contributing significantly to Josephine County’s overall recovery from recession is health care and social assistance. This “recession-resistant” industry showed a slight job loss (-210) during and just after the official recession. During the recovery, this sector added about 1,790 jobs in Josephine County. However, the published figures include home care workers that were previously counted in state government but now are included in the private sector health care and social assistance industry.  The net change from previous pre-recession peak employment to current is shown in the above graph. The second figure in the health care and social assistance row is the estimated real change in employment, without the home care workers previously counted in government- about 1,200 when removing home health workers from the totals.

Some sectors have regained all jobs lost during the recession, with a few exceptions. Wholesale trade doesn’t appear to be poised for faster growth to reach pre-recession peak anytime soon, and is in fact in a longer-term decline as employment continued to decline from 2012 to 2018. Another sector related to the housing and building sectors has yet to regain all the job lost: financial activities is still 70 jobs below its pre-recession peak total.

A number of other industries are still below their prior peak employment. Mining and logging (-190), information (-100), and transportation, warehousing and utilities (-60) have yet to fully recover lost jobs during the broader economic recovery in recent years.

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