A new university study finds the natural resources sector in the Northwest fuels more than $176 billion in direct and related sales and accounts for nearly 886,000 full and part-time jobs.
The study, commissioned by Northwest Farm Credit Services and performed by extension economists at Oregon State University and the University of Idaho, found agriculture, forestry and fisheries account for 10.6 percent of all jobs in the five-state region and 12.2 percent of all sales in 2015.
“We knew intuitively how vital these industries are to the Northwest and wanted to quantify their contributions to the regional economy,” said Phil DiPofi, NWFCS president and CEO.
“This study affirms the significant impact producers have on the financial strength of our region,” he said.
Agriculture is the front runner in economic impact, claiming about 70 percent of total sales and jobs within the region’s natural resources sector with more than $120.1 billion in direct and related sales and 621,518 jobs in 2015.
It also accounted for 8.3 percent of total sales in the region and 7.5 percent of all jobs, the economists found.
Forestry accounts for nearly 24 percent of sales in the natural resources sector and 21 percent of the jobs. Direct and related sales in the industry totaled nearly $42 billion and provided 189,000 jobs in 2015.
In the entire regional economy, forestry provides 2.9 percent of all sales and 2.3 percent of all jobs.
The fishing and seafood manufacturing industry is the smallest in the natural resources sector, representing about 8 percent of sales and jobs. With $13.9 billion in sales and 75,416 jobs in 2015, it represented only 1 percent of total sales in the region and less than 1 percent of jobs.
Washington and Oregon have the largest natural resources sector in the region and together contain about 65 percent of all economic activity in that sector. Washington had 200,770 direct jobs in the sector with $42.4 billion in direct sales in 2015. Oregon had 147,591 direct jobs in the sector with $32.4 billion in direct sales.
The two states also have more related economic activity than the other states due to larger spillover benefits, as there are more businesses buying and selling and more people earning wages and income from the production, the economists found.
Idaho had 76,374 direct jobs in the natural resources sector with more than $22.7 billion in sales in 2015. Montana had 63,360 direct jobs with more than $8 billion in sales in 2015.
With similar employment levels, “total sales in Idaho are 2.8 times as large as sales in Montana, which indicates that the natural resources sector is less labor intensive and includes more high value production in Idaho than Montana,” the economists reported.
Alaska has the fewest sales and jobs in the sector, with about $5.9 billion direct in sales and 45,036 direct jobs in 2015.
The study also found that 60 percent of all natural resource sales in the region are exported to other states or other countries, accounting for 15 percent of all exports from the region. Total sales exported ranged from a high of 89 percent of the seafood manufacturing sector to a low of 55 percent of agricultural farm gate production.