Economic impacts of fire season may be felt for months

Medford, Ore. — We’re learning more about the impact this year’s wildfire season had on the economy. For the second month in a row, the number of jobs is down. Whether it’s directly related to smoke and fire, remains to be seen.

“This last summer was the worst that I’ve seen,” Rogue Regency Inn & Suites General Manager, Bruce Hoevet says.

Business is steady again at Rogue Regency Inn in Medford, after a tough end to what’s usually a busy summer.

“Lost about 400 room nights, which amounted to about $250,000 overall,” Hoevet explains, “that’s not counting the people that didn’t come because of the smoke.”

The losses didn’t result in layoffs at the hotel, but it took a hit. Hoevet says other industries likely felt the impacts too.

“Buying gas, restaurants, going to the movies,” Hoevet says, adding the average person that stays overnight spends $150 dollars a day.

Regional economist Guy Tauer says the most recent numbers show a steeper than normal drop in leisure and hospitality employment. However, those numbers are based only on a small sample of employers. They won’t have the full picture for a few more months when payroll tax records are compiled. Even then, Tauer says the impacts won’t necessarily be apparent in a jobs report.

“Say an employee works, they’re counted as being employed, but they may have had hours cut or they may have worked less shifts,” Tauer says, adding businesses that lost revenue this summer could make employment changes months down the road.

Payroll data won’t be available for about 6 more months. While some industries may take a hit as a result of the fire season, there will likely be a bump in the number of people employed in the field of forestry and agricultural support.

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