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Loggers displaced in 1990s left behind, study finds ^ | January 7, 2003 | by MICHAEL MILSTEIN

Posted on 01/08/2003 12:19:47 PM PST by Harley109

One of the great unknowns following the collapse of Northwest timber cutting through the 1990s was what happened to thousands of loggers, sawmill workers and others who lost their jobs.

Researchers mining a decade's worth of obscure state employment records have unearthed an answer, and it's not pretty:

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More than half the 60,000 workers who held jobs in the wood products industry at the start of the 1990s had left it by 1998. And almost half of those who left disappeared from work rolls altogether -- probably moving to another state, retiring or going unemployed.

Roughly 18,000 of the workers who left the field found a job in Oregon. But of them, nearly half took jobs in service and retail businesses -- such as restaurants and department stores -- ending up with lower wages, on average, than they had earned almost 10 years before.

Viewing the job shifts by region, researchers found that about a third of those who lost jobs in rural Southwest and Eastern Oregon did find work at higher wages -- but only after moving to the urban northwest part of the state.

The findings counter suggestions by some antilogging activists that the Northwest's high-tech boom offset logging losses with hardly a hiccup. While the regional economy as a whole grew to record levels of income and employment through the 1990s, those who made their living from timber were largely left behind.

"They did not seem to share in the great bounty of the '90s," said Ted Helvoigt, a former state economist who now works for ECONorthwest, an economic consulting firm. "More ended up in the lower paid service industry than anywhere else."

Helvoigt co-authored the study using state employment records to track thousands of timber workers over the past decade, when debates over the northern spotted owl and other protected species all but shut down logging on federal lands. The study may be the first major effort to watch how environmentally driven economic changes affect individual workers.

It also was authored by economists at Oregon State University and the Oregon Employment Department. Publication is expected later this year, in the Journal of Forestry.

Wildlife protections did not eliminate all the jobs, however. Others disappeared because of increasingly computerized sawmills and the depressed timber market.

"We all need to appreciate that it's been a rough go for those in the timber industry," said Mitch Friedman of the Northwest Ecosystem Alliance. "These are important people and important jobs, but that shouldn't drive harmful logging practices."

He criticized the Bush administration for fashioning itself a friend of rural America while cutting funds for communities adjusting to declines in natural resource industries such as logging.

Overlooked database Economists have long pondered how Oregon's timber work force handled erosion of its foundation. But it was not until Helvoigt alerted them to a long-overlooked state database that they could fill in the blanks.

The database, collected as part of the state unemployment insurance program, allowed researchers to track individual workers by their social security numbers. It detailed their job, location and salary histories from 1989 to 1998. Their names and personal details remained confidential.

The researchers counted about 60,000 people working in the wood products sector at the beginning of the 1990s.

By 1998, 42 percent were still employed in wood products. They tended to be the more highly skilled, better paid workers. About a third, usually lower paid workers, shifted to another industry -- mainly service and retail trade, but also construction, manufacturing and transportation. About 450, or 2.5 percent of those who went into another line of work, joined the roaring high-tech industry.

Just less than a third were gone from the records, meaning they either retired, left the state, or were unemployed or self-employed. They also may have formed the core of "a cadre of chronically underemployed rural residents," the study concluded.

"We can't prove it, but most of them had to have left the state," said Darius Adams, a co-author and professor of forest resources at Oregon State University.

Salary trends When it comes to salary, the trend was down.

Those who left the timber industry for other jobs saw their median earnings decline an average of 1 percent from 1990 to 1998, while those who stayed saw 6 percent increases. The roughly 4,200 who ended up in the service industry had the lowest earnings of all, with fewer benefits such as health insurance.

The figures pale against the 23 percent increase the average Oregon worker enjoyed during the same period.

"People did find employment, but it wasn't quite as rosy as it might have seemed," Adams said.

More than 60 percent of those who left the timber industry in sparsely populated Southwest and Eastern Oregon stayed in those parts of the state, hit hardest by the drop-off in logging on federal lands. Most of the rest moved to more rapidly growing Northwest Oregon and ended up with median salaries 29 percent higher -- $24,413 versus $18,967 -- than those who stayed behind.

Newcomers moving into the Northwest for well-paying jobs in the technology industry fueled much of the economic growth in the 1990s, Helvoigt said.

The study's results illustrate the risks of viewing the regional economy so broadly that the hardships of individual workers escape notice.

"When you look at actual individuals, you see that people were affected," Helvoigt said. "When you look at the averages, you miss the impacts on individuals."

Michael Milstein: 503-294-7689;

TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: blm; earthfirst; forestry; logging; lumber; oldgrowth; oregon; pacificnw; usfs

1 posted on 01/08/2003 12:19:47 PM PST by Harley109
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To: Grampa Dave; Carry_Okie
Heads up on some news about some suffering working class types we care about.
2 posted on 01/08/2003 12:22:15 PM PST by Harley109
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To: Harley109
File this under the chapter called "Rural Cleansing" in the book titled "John Kitzhaber's Legacy to Oregon".
3 posted on 01/08/2003 1:39:42 PM PST by Siegfried
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To: Harley109
Yeah, but the tree-huggers will only tell you that the loggers were just a bunch of tree murderers.
4 posted on 01/08/2003 1:41:50 PM PST by Redleg Duke
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To: Redleg Duke
Yes indeed, loggers are an endangered species no left wing activist type cares the least about. Unless one is at the base of a tree they are in with a running saw.
5 posted on 01/08/2003 2:00:44 PM PST by Harley109
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To: Harley109
In 1982 when I was a head sawyer for the worlds highest producing hardwood sawmill (according to a timber harvesting mag) I made just over 18,500 dollars.
This year I made just over 5,000 gross as the owner and president of my own logging corp. Feb I go see the orthopedic surgeon and will no doubt go in for my 3rd back operation in 11 years. I will then file for disability..I've had enough. The big timber corporations dont care as they are getting more and more raw products from overseas to run their paper mills, and the dam eco fruits certainly dont care...I hate each and every one of the blood sucking scum and go out of my way to let them know it.
If you want to know how the robber barons live..just go ask the head of Besse Forest Products Group (web site) how nice it is to attend Green Bay Packers games from his personal sky box at the stadium...or ask him how well he and his sons brand new million dollar houses are comming along. Yet the miserable greedy pig wont give his jobbers another 40 bucks a thousand to produce logs for his outfit. Then tells the scalers to cut the scale on the producers..
So next time you by that fancy laminated snap together hardwood flooring just think of how you are providing for their living the high life.
6 posted on 01/08/2003 2:21:07 PM PST by crz
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To: Harley109
They are all down here in Southeast Texas taking out the Big Thicket as quickly as possible.
7 posted on 01/08/2003 3:12:07 PM PST by thetruckster
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To: Harley109
. But it was not until Helvoigt alerted them to a long-overlooked state database that they could fill in the blanks.

Read, it was not until a Republican president was elected . . . .

8 posted on 01/08/2003 3:23:37 PM PST by 1rudeboy
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To: Harley109
Thanks for finding and posting this. I have bookmarked it.

Rural cleansing of loggers, small tree farm owners, small lumber mill owners, logging truckers and others involved in the lumber business has been going on for about two decades with the advent of the spotted owl ESA.

In the 90's the Enviral Fascists started aiming at farmers, ranchers and anyone else who dared to make an honest living from the land.

Andrew Kerr, shortly after Katznslobber was elected the second time ran a symposium where he arrogantly said that Oregon had too many people and too many jobs. Katznslobber basically agreed.

Now Kaztnslobber and the Watermelon Jihadists have driven Oregon into basically a depression instead of a recession.

We have the same situation in N. California in most of our northern counties re the timber industry people. Now the enviral nazis are trying to rurally cleanse all farmers and ranchers from the Klamath River basin in the name of salmon. Instead representing the Farmers and Ranchers in this district, Bagdad Mike Thompson has started a new round of rural cleansing under the phoney subterfuge of GW wasting water for the farmers and killing the salmon.

Thompson know that he will lose this round. It is just payback for the support of the Watermelons in the Arcata/Humboldt University and the Watermelons and Communists at UCDavis. He has both universities and the thousands of two time voters in his district. Left wing college voters who vote at their college town and at their home are rampant in America. So Thompson is just paying back the voting support and the massive $ support from the Watermelons in his district.
9 posted on 01/08/2003 3:46:56 PM PST by Grampa Dave (Bush/Cheney 2004 with 60 Republican Senators in 2005!)
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Comment #10 Removed by Moderator

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