Douglas County Economic Indicators - August 2023
The August edition of the Douglas County Economic Indicators is also available on Quality Info.
Douglas County jobs declined slightly over the year. By total job counts, we remain about 2% below the pre-pandemic peak, but the gap varies by industry. Unemployment stood at 4.6%, near the all-time record low of 4.3% set in November 2019.
For this month’s special graph I wanted to show some of the ways manufacturing has evolved in our area’s recent history. Economists divide manufacturing into durable and nondurable goods, and while the terms are somewhat self-explanatory (for durable, think of long-lasting items like machinery and wood, and for nondurable, think of consumables like food and textiles) looking at them separately provides some interesting context on what recessions do to industries and economies.
In Douglas County, durable goods manufacturing is by far the larger of the two. However, employment in the subsector has decreased by 29% since 2001. Because of the nature of the 2008 recession – which centered around the housing industry and devastated businesses dependent on construction and machinery – durable goods manufacturing experienced significant losses in the 2008 recession that weren’t recouped in the decade-plus recovery. In comparison, 2020 saw only slight job losses in the sector.
On the other hand, nondurable goods employment has increased by 35% since 2001. Though the subsector was affected in 2008, losses were counterbalanced by trends such as the rise of specialty food and beverage. Nondurable goods manufacturing continued to grow through the subsequent decade and now has more jobs than it did before the 2020 recession as well.
Nondurable goods’ growth notwithstanding, durable goods remains the economic base of Douglas County manufacturing. In 2001 it made up 94% of manufacturing jobs, and by 2022 it still made up 89%. For context, about 62% of the nation’s manufacturing employment is in durable goods.
What to take from all this? While both sides of the manufacturing house are important to our region, they tend to respond differently to economic headwinds. Maintaining a robust manufacturing sector helps preserve the diversity of the economic base, which helps our area keep its footing when demand for a particular product falters.
This month’s articles included:
As always, the Indicators contain all the latest economic data on our area. If you have a data question or want to learn more about any of these topics, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Henry L. Fields
Oregon Employment Department