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Good paying forestry jobs are disappearing

In 1980, 1 in 10 Oregon private-sector jobs were in the forest industry. Today it’s less than 1 in 50.

Willamette Week recently reported on this trend that has been occurring for decades.

The average annual wage of a job in the forest sector was $54,200 in 2017, roughly 6 percent higher than the average wage of $51,100 for all Oregon employment, according to data from the Oregon Forest Resources Institute. This gap is even higher in rural communities where forest sector wages can be around 38 percent higher on average, such as in Tillamook County.

As rural and coastal communities in Oregon move away from forestry-related jobs, they may also be moving away from higher paying salaries. The Association of O&C Counties notes that the average recreation-based employee earns approximately $22,000, or 40 percent of the pay in timber-related industries.

In Clatsop County, home to popular tourist destination Cannon Beach, forest sector jobs pay on average 92 percent more. Lincoln County, which includes Newport, sees a difference of 86 percent.

“Replacing natural resource jobs with tourism is hard,” Josh Lehner, a state economist, told the Willamette Week. Lehner notes that forest products jobs pay around twice as much as the tourism jobs that supplant them.

Learn more about the benefits of forest jobs at GrowOregonStrong.com.