Employment in Oregon’s timber industry has been declining for decades. Reasons include mechanization, competition from Canada and changes in forest management due to environmental concerns. The recent industry downturn began in the fourth quarter of 2006. One year later the current recession began and hit Western U.S. housing construction very hard, pummeling wood products manufacturing as well. Since late 2006, Oregon timber employment (excluding self-employment) has dropped by roughly one-sixth and more than 5,000 jobs. Douglas County saw the largest decline (-862 jobs), followed by Coos and Lane counties. Both Grant and Coos counties lost roughly half of their wood products jobs and Hood River County cut two-fifths. Almost all of Oregon’s timber counties have shed industry jobs since 2006. Despite these losses, wood products remains one of Oregon’s major, high-wage employers with about 25,000 jobs in December 2008. Crook, Lake, and Douglas counties have Oregon’s highest local concentrations of employment in the industry.
— BRIAN ROONEY
WorkSource Oregon employment economist