Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day and Oregon's Florists

May Day flower baskets are one tradition of May Day (May 1). These baskets are left on someone's doorstep as the person giving the basket rings the doorbell and runs away. In regard to this tradition, Phoebe Colman, a Research Analyst at the Employment Department, prepared the brief analysis below of Oregon's florist industry.

Among some young people, it’s considered a great thrill to leave an item on a neighbor’s front porch, ring the doorbell, and run away to observe the results from a covert location. When I was growing up in rural Oregon, May Day was the one day a year I could engage in this form of recreation without risk or consequence.

I no longer distribute flower baskets for quick, anonymous thrills. But in 2012, there were still 617 workers making arrangements in 157 florist shops around Oregon. A lot has changed for these shops. Since 2001, the number of shops fell by 39 percent, and they now employ 58 percent fewer workers than a decade ago. The total payroll of dedicated flower shops was $8.8 million in 2012, down from just over $17 million in 2001.

Falling employment and wages in the florist industry do not necessarily mean that demand for flowers is wilting. The popularity of “one-stop-shopping” destinations and online retailers probably explains why there are fewer dedicated flower shops in Oregon these days.

If you have your May Baskets made professionally this year, who will you be enlisting as your partner in botanical merrymaking? Over half of the workers in this industry are floral designers. Additional occupations include delivery drivers, retail salespersons, managers, and other support staff. The vast majority (83%) of florist industry workers are women, and workers in this industry tend to be older than the total workforce. For example, 37 percent of Oregon’s florist industry workers are 55 years old or older, compared with 23 percent of workers in all industries combined.

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