Oregon’s Forest Sector Employment Totals 61,000 in 2015

by Gail Krumenauer

February 8, 2017

Forest sector-related employment in Oregon totaled 61,000 in 2015, an increase of almost 4 percent from 58,800 in 2013. Forest-related jobs paid relatively well, with an annual average wage of $50,000, roughly 4 percent more than $48,300 for all jobs covered by unemployment insurance in 2015.

Categories of Forest Sector Employment

The majority of Oregon’s forest sector-related employment occurs in privately owned companies. In 2015, almost 51,000 forest sector jobs were found at private establishments covered by unemployment insurance. Another 3,400 private nonemployers operated in forest-related industries in 2014, the most recent year with available data. Federal, state, and local government accounted for 6,600 forest sector jobs statewide.
Oregon’s forest sector falls into five major categories: primary forest products; secondary forest products; forest management; forestry support; and forestry-dependent industries. Primary forest products made up one-third of the forest sector total with 19,600 jobs and 600 nonemployers. Within primary forest products, sawmills, paper manufacturing, and softwood veneer and plywood manufacturing accounted for more than half (57%) of employment.
Forestry support accounted for another 22 percent of forest sector employment, with 11,400 jobs and 2,100 reported nonemployers. Of those, more than half (56%) were found in private logging. Support activities for forestry – which includes establishments engaged in forestry economics, forest firefighting, and estimating timber, among other things – made up another third (34%) of employment in this category. Similar to primary forest products and forestry support, Oregon’s 11,000 jobs and 400 nonemployers in secondary forest products were concentrated into a couple of industries: millwork (45%), and wood kitchen cabinets and countertops (28%).
Unlike other categories of forest sector employment, the majority of Oregon’s 7,700 forestry management jobs were found in government. Timber tract operations mostly consisted of jobs at the U.S. Forest Service. The other large forestry management industry was administration of conservation programs, which mostly included jobs at the Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Forestry, and in the administration portion of the U.S. Forest Service. The largest source of private employment in forestry management was in corporate offices of forest sector-related firms with most of their employment in other categories.

Wood product transportation jobs consisted of 4,700 jobs at business establishments (not already found in other categories) in Oregon with log or chip trucks with active registrations at the Oregon Department of Transportation. The 3,100 forest sector jobs in forestry-dependent industries were mostly represented by lumber, plywood, millwork and wood panel merchant wholesalers. Other identified forest sector establishments included 300 jobs in various industries ranging from biomass power generation to marine cargo handling, consulting services, and support services, among others.

Importance of Forest Sector Jobs in Rural Oregon

Oregon’s 61,000 forest sector jobs made up roughly 3 percent of all employment in 2015. Almost 39,500 (65%) of those jobs were found at establishments in metropolitan counties, while 19,900 forest-related jobs (33%) belonged to businesses in rural counties. Another 1,600 jobs (3%) were in multi-area or unclassified locations.
Although metros accounted for twice as many of these jobs, forest sector employment made up 7 percent of all rural employment, compared with 2 percent of all metropolitan area employment. In Grant County, one out of every five jobs was forest-related. The sector accounted for more than 10 percent of the total in Douglas, Lake, Jefferson, and Crook counties.

The forest sector also held relative importance to rural Oregon in terms of wages. In 2015, forest-related jobs paid nearly the same average wage ($49,800) as all jobs ($49,900) in metropolitan areas. In rural Oregon, the forest sector paid the same average wage as in the metro areas. Yet, that’s $13,300 more than the $36,500 average wage for all rural jobs. In Lincoln County, the average annual forest sector wage ($71,200) was double that of all jobs ($35,300). Forest-related jobs also paid nearly double the all-job average in Clatsop County ($68,200 and $35,100, respectively).

Our breakout likely understates the importance of forest jobs to rural Oregon. That’s because “metropolitan” includes all jobs throughout the 13 counties that are a part of the state’s eight metropolitan areas, even if the non-metropolitan balance of the county is rural in character.
More Forest Sector Information

This forest sector research was undertaken in partnership with the Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon Forest Resources Institute. More information can be found in the 2017-2018 edition of Oregon Forest Facts.

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