Friday, May 19, 2017

Agriculture's Impact on Rural Employment

The Employment Department has released a new special report: The Employment Landscape of Rural Oregon. This is the third in a series of posts about several key takeaway points from the report.

Agriculture is a critical industry in rural communities. There were around 20,300 agricultural jobs in Oregon’s rural counties in 2015. That represents 36 percent of statewide agricultural jobs. This compares with 17 percent of the state’s population and just 13 percent of the state’s nonfarm payroll jobs being in rural counties.

Similar to the share of agricultural jobs, farm wages and salaries earned in rural counties account for 36 percent of statewide farm earnings. Nonfarm payroll wages in rural counties account for just 10 percent of the statewide total. Agriculture is a classic traded-sector industry, where nearly all of the crops or animals raised are sold outside of the local economy. Rural Oregon’s disproportionate share of farm wages helps stabilize demand for local support industries as these wages are spent at local grocery stores and restaurants.

Over the past 10 years (2005-2015) agricultural employment declined by 4 percent (-2,100 jobs) across Oregon. The statewide figure is pulled down by declines in metropolitan counties (-2,700), whereas rural counties saw employment rise a modest 3 percent over the past decade (+600 jobs). This urban/rural divide doesn’t paint a complete picture as rural employment gains are driven by growth in two regions, the Columbia River Gorge (especially Hood River, Umatilla, and Morrow counties) and the Klamath Basin. Employment increased by nearly 1,000 jobs in counties stretching along the Columbia River from the Gorge east to Hermiston. Despite years of sustained drought, employment in the Klamath Basin rose by around 150 jobs (+7%). Agricultural employment declined in all other rural regions of the state from 2005 to 2015, including the coast, Eastern Oregon, and Central Oregon.
For more information about rural Oregon, see the full report.

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