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Little impact from wildfires in September

November 1, 2017

Wildfires Impact on September Employment Figures

Posted by Anna Johnson

Oregon Workforce and Economic Information

September’s wildfires didn’t seem to have a noticeable impact on the statewide jobs and unemployment rate report. The fires did have a noticeable impact the local job reports in the Columbia Gorge, Central Oregon, and Southern Oregon. Leisure and hospitality businesses in these areas cut a combined 600 more jobs than they usually do in September. This sector includes restaurants, hotels, and other tourism related businesses. Since the wildfires and smoke coincided with the end of the tourism season, it is not possible to fully tell which jobs were lost due to the unusual wildfires and smoke, and which jobs were cut as the usual tourism season ended.

The wildfires had no effect on unemployment rates in September. In order to be counted as unemployed in the statistics, an individual must not have a job during the reference week (the week of the month containing the 12th, which was September 10-16, 2017), but were available for a job and were making active efforts to find one. Individuals that have jobs but were temporarily absent from their workplace due to wildfires would be considered employed, as would workers whose normal work hours were reduced during the week.

Seasonal wildland firefighter jobs are often outside the scope of the monthly job growth figures. Figures for the increase in wildland firefighter jobs will be available in about three months.

Employment Department regional economists in Central Oregon, the Columbia Gorge, the Portland area, South Coast, and Southern Oregon provided more detailed information about wildfire employment impacts in their areas, which can be found here.

  
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