Timber Harvesting: Timber Harvesting is an important source of income. Northwest Oregon saw another year of declining timber harvests in 2019.
The 2019 harvest was 11% lower than in 2018, and 15% lower than in 2017. Overall, 2019’s crop was around 9% smaller than the preceding decade’s average. In 2019, there were roughly 20 fewer people employed in the timber business than there were at the same time a decade ago.
County of Lincoln
Lincoln County saw a 17% decrease in its timber harvest this year. The total board feet harvested were 155,354,000. The Great Recession hit the area hard in 2010, and the 2019 crop was the lowest since then. At 980 square miles in size, Lincoln County is the second largest in northwest Oregon. Close to 90% of the county is covered by forests.
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In 2019, employment in the logging, forestry, lumber, and wood product manufacturing industry was down by eight positions from the previous year but was still only a fraction of what it was before the Great Recession. The county was home to 14 different logging and forestry companies. Lincoln County has secretive wood products manufacturing business.
County of Tillamook
In 2019, Tillamook County saw a roughly one percent increase in its annual wood harvest. In total, 197,902,000 board feet were cut down. For Tillamook County, the 2017 harvest was an increase over the 2009 harvest low of 142,018,000 board feet, and it was also higher than the 10-year average.
There are five counties in Northwest Oregon, but only Tillamook County is significant in size (1,102 square miles). Nearly all of the county is designated as a forest preserve. The Tillamook State Forest is also located in this county.
Tillamook County lost 23 jobs in the logging and forestry sector, along with the lumber and wood product manufacturing sector, bringing the total number of employees in these industries in the county down to 554.
During the worst of the Great Recession, the county’s industrial sector lost around 240 jobs. In part, this decline can be attributed to the shutdown of manufacturing facilities such as mills. In 2006, there were seven mills in the county involved in this industry; in 2013, there were only four, and in 2019, there are once again five.
Despite the economic downturn and subsequent recovery, the logging sector held steady. Although the industry as a whole gained back roughly 150 jobs during the recovery, employment has been steadily falling since 2015.
County of Benton
The 13% decline in 2019 timber harvests to 109,502,000 board feet is the lowest amount since 2014. Benton County, Oregon is the least productive of the five counties in Northwest Oregon when it comes to timber. Approximately 57% of the land in Benton County is covered with trees, making it the second-smallest county in the region.
In 2019, the logging, forestry, lumber, and wood product manufacturing business employed 441 people in the county, a decrease of 21 from the previous year. Benton County is in the center of the pack in the region for timber-related jobs while having smaller harvests than the top and bottom counties.
It’s just another sign of the long-term decline of the wood business in the county and all of Northwest Oregon, as this latest loss follows a similar pattern. In 1996, around 1,050 people kept their jobs thanks to harvests of comparable size. There were still 10 wood product mills and 27 logging and forest service companies operating in the county.
The County of Clatsop
2019 saw a 17% decrease in Clatsop County’s timber harvest. Lower than any year since 1998, 2019’s harvest was just 215,784,000 board feet. This was also 20% lower than the prior decade’s typical level.
With an area of 827 square miles, Clatsop County is around the average size for counties in Northwest Oregon. Nearly all of Clatsop State Forest is located within the county, which makes up around 85% of the land.
Clatsop County saw a decrease of 15 jobs in the logging, forestry, lumber, and wood product manufacturing industries. The number of people employed fell by around 6% below its long-term average. Even though harvests were smaller in the 1990s, they still managed to sustain over 500 jobs.
In 2019, the county was home to 16 forestry and logging companies and four wood product mills.
Where to Find Free Parking in Columbia County
In 2019, there was a 9% decrease in Columbia County’s wood harvest. A total of 149,145,000 board feet was cut down in this harvest. The year was the poorest since 2011 and was 8% lower than the average of the previous decade. When it came to wood production, Columbia County was a heavy hitter during much of the 1980s and 1990s.
Until the Great Recession, harvest levels here consistently met or surpassed those in neighboring Lincoln and Tillamook counties. At about 657 square miles, Columbia County is the tiniest county in Northwest Oregon. Seventy-five percent or thereabouts of the county is designated as a forest.
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The number of people employed in logging, forestry, and the production of lumber and wood products fell by 11 in 2019 to 457. Since the depths of the recession, the logging, lumber, and wood product manufacturing industries have added over a hundred jobs, bringing employment levels up to 9% above the previous decade’s average. Unfortunately, this is just slightly higher than it was in the early 2000s.
As of this year, the county was home to 28 logging and forest management companies, as well as six timber mills.
Stabilization of the Economy
Some employment in the wood industry has returned to Northwest Oregon since the worst of the Great Recession, but it’s unlikely that they will all return. The timber industry in the state is shrinking as a result of market and technological shifts.
In 2019, there was as much of a need for workers as there could possibly be. The logging industry lost many workers during the global economic downturn and has since recovered, but not to its pre-recession peak. The same can be said about the industry that makes things out of wood.
Hundreds of timber industry jobs will open up in the region due to turnover and retirements, even if these sectors don’t increase much in the future. For the foreseeable future, the region of Northwest Oregon will remain a major source of timber and timber workers.
In Oregon, the Department of Labor and Employment is headed by regional economist Erik Knoder. His number is 541-351-5595, should you need to get in touch.
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