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Federal staff a small segment of local workforce
Federal salaries are well above average, however
By Jayson Jacoby
The federal government shutdown, now in its second week, affects about 250 full-time employees in Baker County.
According to the Oregon Employment Department, the federal government employs fewer people in Baker County than either the state government (280 workers as of August) or local governments (610 workers).
Federal employees account for 4.9 percent of the nonfarm workforce in Baker County.
The potential economic effect of the shutdown could be more significant than the number of jobs suggests, however.
That’s because the average salary for federal employees in the county is almost twice as much as the average for the private sector.
In 2012 the average annual salary for a federal worker in the county was $57,136.
The average for the private sector was $28,818.
Baker County’s workforce includes 5,090 people — 3,950 working in the private sector, and 1,140 public sector employees.
By that measure the shutdown has a larger effect on two other counties in the region, Grant and Harney.
In Grant County federal employees make up 15.4 percent of the nonfarm workforce — 360 federal employees out of 2,330 total, according to the Oregon Employment Department.
Harney County has 310 federal employees, 14 percent of its total nonfarm workforce of 2,210.
Like Baker County, Union, Malheur and Wallowa counties have much smaller percentages of federal employees — 4.7 percent for Wallowa, 3.1 percent for Union, 2.3 percent for Malheur.
The shutdown started just a few days after the opening of the deer-hunting season, which brings many people to Forest Service campgrounds.
Campgrounds and picnic areas on federal land have been closed since Oct. 1.
Visitors can continue to set up a camp at any “dispersed” site — those that don’t have outhouses or other amenities.
The shutdown doesn’t affect state parks.
Federal firefighters and law enforcement officers have continued to work during the shutdown.
Forest Service offices are closed but certain items, including firewood-cutting permits, are available at some local stores. For a list, go to: www.fs.usda.gov/wallowa-whitman/