Rogue Valley Manufacturing Recession Recovery Update

Rogue Valley Manufacturing Recession Recovery Update

by Guy Tauer

November 21, 2016

Manufacturing remains a significant contributor to Rogue Valley employment and economic output. In 2015 manufacturing accounted for 9.8 percent of payroll employment and 11.8 percent of total Gross Domestic Product. There were about 10,400 payroll jobs between Jackson and Josephine counties among about 440 firms.

Great Recession and Employment Recovery

It's been a bumpy ride during the past couple decades in this "traded-sector" industry. During the housing boom era in the early 2000s, the region's concentration of not only wood products, but also other housing-related manufacturing firms enjoyed the rising tide with business driven by rapid construction growth and rising home values. From April 2003 through April 2006, Josephine County for example added about 1,000 manufacturing jobs.

After rising employment before the Great Recession, the region suffered steep manufacturing employment losses. Between September 2007 and September 2010 Jackson County lost 1,690 manufacturing jobs or a decline of 21.6 percent. Josephine County saw an even steeper drop, losing about one out of three manufacturing payroll jobs during those three years, or a net loss of 1,100 jobs. Josephine County has many firms that make housing and construction-related products: furniture, sinks, roofing products, cabinets, and wood products. All of these were impacted by the Great Recession and bursting of the housing bubble.

During the six years of employment recovery, the two counties have forged slightly different paths in their success in recovering the steep losses in manufacturing jobs. Josephine County added 680 jobs from September 2010 to September 2016, leaving the county about 420 manufacturing jobs below its pre-recession peak. Jackson County has made faster progress in recovering manufacturing jobs. After adding 1,970 jobs during the past six years, Jackson County's manufacturing industry has recovered from the Great Recession. Both counties had similar manufacturing job growth rates during those six years, but due to Josephine County's deeper losses during the depths of the recession, it's taking longer for the county to fully recover from the recession.

Detailed Industry Employment and Average Wages

Rogue Valley's manufacturing industry is diverse and includes some global leaders in products that are produced locally. As a young skier I was fascinated to learn that Tucker Sno-Cats are manufactured in Jackson County, and that is just one of many local companies selling their products to other areas of the country and globe. Most manufacturing firms are small, with about two-thirds of all firms employing fewer than 10 workers. About one out of eight firms employ between 10 and 19 workers and about the same number of firms employ between 20 and 49 workers.

Wood products is still the largest component of local manufacturing jobs in the Rogue Valley, accounting for about one out of four jobs. Food manufacturing accounts for the next largest share of manufacturing jobs, about one out of six manufacturing jobs. Transportation equipment employs about one out of ten manufacturing workers in the Rogue Valley. There is also substantial employment in chemical, computer and electronic equipment, beverage products, machinery, metals, and printing-related manufacturing.

Looking at average wage per job sheds light on the range of manufacturing industry pay. The largest manufacturing component – wood products – has an average annual pay of just more than $45,000 per year. The next largest share – food products – has an annual average pay that is just less than $34,000 per year. The next two largest segments – transportation equipment and chemical manufacturing – have average wages of almost $60,000 per year, and have about 1,500 jobs combined.

A slightly higher share (40%) of manufacturing workers earn hourly wages of at least $20.00, compared with the share of non-manufacturing workers (34%) in the Rogue Valley. On the other end of the pay scale, less than 5 percent of manufacturing workers earn under $10.00 per hour compared with more than 15 percent of the workers in non-manufacturing industries.

Occupational Employment

Most occupations in Rogue Valley manufacturing are production-related job titles. However there are a number of jobs relating to office and clerical, management, maintenance, shipping and transportation-related occupations. The job titles with the most employment in Rogue Valley manufacturing are: fork lift, industrial truck and tractor operators; machine feeders and offbearers; supervisors and managers; and inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers.


Total manufacturing employment is projected to grow by 1,080 jobs between 2014 and 2024 in the Rogue Valley. In addition to growth openings, another 2,276 job openings are expected due to replacement needs, for a total of nearly 3,360 manufacturing job openings by 2024.