Oregon’s Forest Sector Employment Totals 61,000 in 2017

by Gail Krumenauer

November 15, 2018

Forest sector-related employment in Oregon totaled 61,100 in 2017, which accounted for 3 percent of Oregon’s workforce. Forest-related jobs paid relatively well, with an annual average wage of $54,200, roughly 6 percent more than $51,100 for all jobs covered by unemployment insurance in 2017.

Categories of Forest Sector Employment

The majority of Oregon’s forest sector-related employment occurs in privately owned companies. About 51,900 forest sector jobs were found at private establishments covered by unemployment insurance in 2017. Another 3,300 private nonemployers operated in forest-related industries in 2016, the most recent year with available data. Federal, state, and local government accounted for 5,900 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 19,300 jobs and 600 nonemployers.
Within primary forest products, sawmills, paper manufacturing, and softwood veneer and plywood manufacturing accounted for three-fourths of all jobs.
Forestry support accounted for another 22 percent of forest sector employment, with 11,200 jobs and 2,000 reported nonemployers. Of those, more than half (55%) 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 roughly another one-third (36%) of employment in this category. Similar to primary forest products and forestry support, Oregon’s 11,700 jobs and 500 nonemployers in secondary forest products were concentrated into a couple of industries: millwork (44%), and wood kitchen cabinets and countertops (30%).

Unlike other categories of forest sector employment, the majority of Oregon’s 6,900 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 5,000 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 2,900 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 700 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 61,100 forest sector jobs made up roughly 3 percent of all employment in 2017. 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 (21%) was forest-related. The sector accounted for more than 10 percent of the total in Douglas, Jefferson, and Lake counties.
The forest sector also held relative importance to rural Oregon in terms of wages. In metropolitan areas, forest sector wages sometimes paid less than the annual average for all jobs, but could also pay as much as 35 percent more. Meanwhile, forest sector jobs in rural areas paid as much as 92 percent more than all jobs. That was the case in Clatsop County, where forest sector jobs paid an average of $70,600, compared with $36,800 for all jobs. Lincoln County was similar, with an average annual forest sector wage ($68,400) that was 86 percent above the all-job average ($31,200).

Even at the county level, 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 at oregonforests.org.


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