Food is on top in new job growth

Has any Southern Oregon industry fared better than the wine industry through the recession?

— Janet K., via email

Guy Taurer, regional economist for the Oregon Employment Department, says there is one sector with a higher percent of job growth between 2005 and 2010 — food manufacturing. But figures can be deceiving, especially in dealing with the idiosyncrasies of employment numbers.

According to official figures, employment at Jackson County wineries grew 108 percent, adding 39 jobs to reach 75 within the state's tracking system during the period. During that five-year stretch, food manufacturing bumped up 130 percent, led by the addition of Amy's Kitchen in White City.

But, clearly, with dozens and dozens of wineries stretching from Ashland to the Applegate, there are more than 75 wine industry workers in the county.

What the state figures don't reflect are the large numbers of self-employed and non-payroll workers in the wine industry, including farm laborers who are not included in the job counts.

The Employment Department holds the economic impact of Oregon wineries and vineyards extends far beyond the winery industry, supporting a number of other sectors. The growth of winery and vineyard activities in recent years affects the employment and financial stability of multiple industries through business purchases and worker income.

Research by a former state analyst showed that in 2007 for every worker in Oregon wineries and vineyards, the industry supported roughly 1.5 jobs elsewhere in the state economy. About half of those jobs fell into viticulture, wholesale trade and transport by truck industries. Other supported jobs included management of companies, real estate, advertising, employment services and glass bottle manufacturing.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501.

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