Sponsored by Oregon Business

Grant struggles with highest unemployment

| Print |  Email
Sunday, March 01, 2009
rural2.jpg Eastern counties  are long on  scenery and short on jobs.

GRANT COUNTY Oregon’s rural counties are being hit hard by unemployment, and the biggest spike is in Grant County, a sparsely populated eastern county reliant on timber and ranching. The job base is feeling the double whammy of the construction collapse on top of the historically declining wood-products industry. In December, Grant’s unemployment rate was 15.9%, the highest in the state; the state average was 9%. One year ago, the county had 10% unemployment.

“This downturn is comparable to the early ’80s when the timber markets busted,” says Grant County Judge Mark Webb. “But now, we’ve not been doing good for a long time. Companies aren’t as healthy and able to weather the challenge. We’re weaker now.” At the core are area mills that are either shutting down or reducing shifts.

That recessions hit rural areas hardest isn’t unexpected, and Oregon’s rural timber-reliant counties have struggled for decades to find new businesses and industries to replace timber. But in a county like Grant, with 60% of the land federally owned and with most of that timber and grazing, Webb says a healthy forest plan that allows more logging while also addressing environmental concerns is key.

A new coalition of Oregon business, environmental, labor and community leaders agrees. The group recently joined forces to promote the economic and environmental benefits of enhanced federal funding to restore forest health in the state. In a Feb. 3 letter to Gov. Ted Kulongoski, and Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and other members of the Oregon congressional delegation, the group urged legislators to press for stimulus funding dedicated to forest restoration and related rural development projects. “This dual investment will create good, family-wage jobs and restore the condition of our national forests,” the group said.

Grant County also faces infrastructure obstacles to diversifying its job bases. “The problem is we have no port or rail and we are not on an interstate,” says county economic development officer Sally Bartlett.

On the bright side, about half of the 2,400 people employed in Grant as of December worked in government, a sector that looks fairly steady at the moment. And Webb says the county’s road funds are in good shape.        ROBIN DOUSSARD

Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



More Articles

OEN takes Portlandia route in new video

The Latest
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 3.27.58 PMBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Several Portland entrepreneurs make appearance in patently silly "The Dream of the Startup is Alive in Oregon" promo.


Reader Input: Made in Oregon

November/December 2015
Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Two trends dominate the manufacturing sector: onshoring and the rise of small-scale production manufacturing, known as the "maker economy."


100 Best Nonprofits announced

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

1015-nonprofits01Oregon Business magazine has named the seventh annual 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon. The rankings were revealed Wednesday night during an awards dinner at the Sentinel Hotel in Portland.


100 Best Nonprofits: Working for equality inside and out

October 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Striving for social equity is the mission of many nonprofits, and this year’s 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon survey shows employees are most satisfied with their organizations’ fair treatment of differing racial, gender, disability, age and economic groups. But as a national discourse about racial discrimination and equity for low-income groups takes center stage, data show Oregon’s 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For still need to make progress on addressing these issues within their own organizations.


Video: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon 2015

The Latest
Monday, October 05, 2015
100-best-NP-logo-2015-video-thumbVIDEO BY JESSE LARSON

Profiling some of the organizations featured in the 2015 list.


The God complex

Linda Baker
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
093015-zydellren-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

The media coverage about Pope Francis must have put me in a Biblical frame of mind. Because after touring the latest phase of the South Waterfront development, a mind boggling 1.5 million square feet of office and retail space that will spring up north of the aerial tram over the next few years, I couldn’t stop thinking about the massive project as a modern day creation story.


Have a baby and keep a job? It won’t be easy in Portland

The Latest
Friday, October 02, 2015
100115kimblogthumbBY KIM MOORE

Our intrepid (and expecting) research editor finds the child care search involves long waiting lists, costly fees and no certainty of securing a place before she goes back to work.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02