While Oregon's coastal economy had another hard year in 2011, it seems as though the year ended on a small upbeat. Growth continued into early 2012; all of the coastal counties have shown at least some months with job gains compared with the previous year.
The year started off only 160 jobs below the level in January 2010. Although employment did increase as summer approached (it does that every year in our seasonal economy), job growth was weaker than usual. By August, when employment was near its peak at 71,370, the coast was down 1,030 jobs compared with August 2010. The summer job levels were essentially flat from June through September as employers refrained from their usual hiring. Employment made its usual drop in the late fall, but businesses managed to retain enough employees to finish the year with 710 more than in December 2010.
The over-the-year gain was 580 in February 2012 - the most recent data available. The employment gains are principally due to the private sector, which added 1,350 jobs over the year to December 2011, while government combined lost 640 jobs.
On an annual basis the private sector gained an average of 210 jobs in 2011 and governments lost an average of 600 jobs - for a net loss of 390 jobs. Part of the government losses are due to the loss of temporary jobs for the 2010 Census, but local governments, especially school districts, are losing jobs due to funding shortages.
Industry employment trends varied by county:
- Clatsop County gained a few jobs in wood product manufacturing; wholesale trade; and transportation, warehousing, and utilities. The county lost jobs in leisure and hospitality, other services, and local governments. Annual average payroll employment fell by 90 in 2011 to 16,680.
- Tillamook County shed 120 payroll jobs on an annual average basis. Losses were in wood product manufacturing, financial services, construction, and leisure and hospitality. Local government also dropped jobs in education and other local governments. The county added jobs in food manufacturing and educational and health services.
- Lincoln County lost jobs in financial services, construction, and in state and local government. Federal government employment grew with expansion of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Lincoln County gained some jobs in food manufacturing, retail trade, professional and business services, and other services. It all added up to a loss of 100 jobs on an annual average basis in 2011.
- In 2011, Coos County's total annual average payroll grew by 70 jobs from the 2010 level. Compared with 2010, transportation, warehousing, and utilities employment showed the largest gain, up by 130 jobs. An overall increase in shipping activity, ground and sea, contributed to these employment gains. Other increases occurred in leisure and hospitality, and mining and logging. Most employment weakness was in the government sectors, with local government education down by 220 jobs.
- In Curry County, annual average employment declined by 130 in 2011. Health care was the only published industry gaining jobs over the year. Construction, financial services, leisure and hospitality, and government cut enough jobs over the year to lead to the net loss.
With average annual payroll employment lower in 2011, it might surprise you that the unemployment rate was slightly lower in 2011 than in 2010.
The unemployment rate for the five coastal counties combined averaged 10.1 percent in 2011, roughly double what is considered a full-employment level. The unemployment rate has been trending downward and was 9.7 percent in December 2011. This was significantly less than the rate in January 2010, when it was 11.6 percent.
The lower rate in 2011 is due to both higher numbers of people employed and fewer of them unemployed. The total number of people employed includes not only those employed in nonfarm payroll jobs but also the self employed and agricultural workers. In fact, anyone who works at least one hour during the survey week is counted. Total employment increased by about 2,500 on an annual average basis in 2011. The annual average number of people unemployed dropped by about 1,000 in 2011. Unfortunately, there are still nearly 4,000 more people unemployed along the coast than there were before the recession.
Major 2011 employment stories along the coast included:
- Clatsop Community College in Astoria will lay off 15 of its 39 full-time faculty effective this spring term. Some classified staff positions and an administrator will also be cut. The Daily Astorian, 11/2/2011
- Hampton Affiliates is reopening its Warrenton lumber mill. It will employ 100 people. The Daily Astorian, 7/27/2011
- Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria unveiled an expanded surgery suite, a same-day services room, an endoscopy suite, and a laboratory. It now employs 450 people. The Daily Astorian, 9/21/2011
- Stimson Lumber announced a layoff of 25 mill workers from its Tillamook lumber mill effective September 6. Headlight-Herald, 7/27/2011
- Bi-Mart, Goodwill, Grocery Outlet, Dollar Tree, and other businesses are scheduled to open by next spring at a new complex in Tillamook. Headlight-Herald, 6/15/2011
- Adventist Health/Tillamook Medical Group opened the Manzanita Primary & Specialty Care Clinic. Headlight-Herald, 12/28/2011
- The Lincoln City Rehabilitation Center will close. The owner, Pinnacle Healthcare of Springfield, will assist the center's 57 employees with job placement at its other facilities. News-Times, 8/10/2011
- Siletz Technologies, a software testing business set up by the Siletz Tribal Business Corporation, will close its Lincoln City operation. News-Times, 7/1/2011
- Twisted Snout Brewery and Public House opened in Toledo. News-Times, 9/28/2011
- Oregon Resource Corp. began hiring for its Bunker Hill chromite processing plant. The plant is about 80 percent complete and is on target for an April start date. It will eventually employ 50 workers. Its mining contractor, West Coast Resources, will hire about 20 to 30 more. The World, 3/1/2011
- Roseburg-based First Call Resolution will open a call center in Coos Bay that could eventually employ 250 people. The World, 3/29/2011
- The Coquille Indian Tribe bought a controlling interest in Corvallis-based manufacturer, Perpetua Power Source. Land north of The Mill Casino-Hotel in Coos Bay will be developed into an assembly plant producing renewable components for wireless applications. Construction is expected to begin this year and will create about 30 jobs. The World, 5/10/2011
- Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach will lay off 22 employees in an effort to stem substantial losses suffered by the hospital over the past two years. Curry Coastal Pilot, 12/13/2011
- Southwestern Oregon Community College's new Curry Campus north of Brookings will open in January 2012. It will accommodate 500 students. Curry Coastal Pilot, 9/3/2011
- In order to make up a $1.2-million deficit in the 2011-2012 budget, the Central Curry School District in Gold Beach will lay off nearly one-quarter of its teaching staff, eliminate half of all sports, and take 10 furlough days. Curry Coastal Pilot, 4/30/2011