Logging and mining at the top of Jackson County job growth

The job sector with the greatest percentage gain over the last four years may surprise some people: mining and logging, growing 27.3 percent.

"We're still pulling trees from private lands, despite what has gone on in federal lands," said Guy Tauer, a regional economist with the Oregon Employment Department.

Logging provides raw materials for mills, here and in surrounding counties, and reforestation efforts contribute to job creation as well, he said.

Tauer said 28 percent of local manufacturing involves wood products, producing a third of the job growth in sector. That number skyrockets to 80 percent in nearby counties. Jackson County still sees new food manufacturing jobs at companies large and small.

"The boutique wineries and microbrewers are not adding tons of jobs, but their growth range is pretty strong," Tauer said.

The medical field produced double-digit job-growth gains in the past four years. Divided into educational and health services, health care and social assistance, and health care, the field has produced 3,850 new positions in the past four years.

"Health care has been growing steadily for many years," Tauer said. "You don't see it so much year-over-year, but just in the past five years it's up 10 percent. It wasn't impacted by the recession and on the chart you see a straight line marching continually upwards."

The trend isn't expect to fade.

"It's an area growing much faster than the rest of the overall economy," he said. "I would imagine it will continue as baby boomers eventually need more medical care."

Amber Sekreta decided to bypass traditional college studies and enroll in an accelerated certified nurse's assistant program from Pacific Health Care Training to secure a career in the fast-growing health-care field.

After four years of volunteering in medical arenas from Mercy Flights to hospitals, the 20-year-old Sekreta saw a quick path to employment.

"I can do things that require a little more technical training without so many prerequisites," Sekreta said. "A lot of people have a difficult time sitting in class. If you can focus on what your ultimate goal is without spending a lot of time, you're way ahead."

Months of training were squeezed into 23 days, she said. "That's what blew me away."

She has her CNA 2 certification and two jobs, one with Asante's Cheney Family Place as a residential aide, and for Nurse Next Door.

"In the next three to five years," she said, "I see myself working at a doctor's office or surgery center."

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