Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fourth of July Brings Fountain of Jobs to Oregon

by Nick Beleiciks, State Employment Economist

Oregonians across the state will be celebrating the 239th anniversary of our nation’s Declaration of Independence with barbeques featuring Oregon-grown fare, pies made from Oregon cherries, and fireworks as permitted under Oregon Revised Statutes 480.110 through 480.165. They will also enjoy displays created by Oregon’s professional pyrotechnic companies.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that $247.1 million worth of fireworks were imported from China in 2014. According to the 2012 Economic Census, sales of fireworks by wholesalers totaled $508.1 million, while sales of fireworks by retailers totaled $369.4 million. This volume of sales generates jobs, although the exact number is as obscure as a neighborhood street filled with lit smoke balls.

Trying to count Oregon’s fireworks-related jobs can make you feel like a lit-up Catherine wheel spinning on a post. There’s no single industry that captures everything related to fireworks. We decided to compile employment and wage data for the six firms with a variation of “fireworks” in their name and the firms we knew sold fireworks but did not mention it in their name.

Oregon’s fireworks firms are involved in one of these two activities:
  • Toy and hobby goods and supplies merchant wholesalers – businesses that take possession of the fireworks before selling them to retailers. 
  • All other amusement and recreation industries – business that put on firework displays.
Employment at just the six fireworks firms blooms like a ground flower around the Fourth of July, reaching 182 jobs in July 2014. Their combined average employment was 88 jobs in the third quarter of 2014, with a total pay of nearly $627,000. That works out to an average quarterly wage of over $7,100 per job, equivalent to over $28,000 per year, if they worked all year round.

We know this is a significant undercount of all fireworks-related jobs because there are currently more than 700 retail fireworks sales locations permitted by the State Fire Marshal. One-half of these permits are for indoors locations like grocery stores, where it’s impossible to separate fireworks-related employment. The other half are for outside locations in temporary tents or stands, typically as fundraisers. 
So think about all the workers behind the black snakes and sparklers you’re enjoying this year. And please remember to be safe. Oregon’s 3,715 fire fighters could use a relaxing Independence Day.

Your four-legged friends could use some moral support too as they struggle through the booms and bangs of the holiday. Remember that many pets are afraid of the fireworks, and you may need to take precautions to keep them safe and calm. While Oregon is home to 1,070 veterinarians, you can bet that not all of them will be working this weekend!

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